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The Perfect Day at Beamish Museum, Durham

Probably the best and most-famous open air museum in the UK, Beamish Museum depicts life in the North-East of England from the 1820’s through to the 1950’s. This guide will take you through spending a day at Beamish Museum.

In the green rolling hills of County Durham, near the town of Stanley, you’ll find Beamish Museum described as the ‘living museum of the North’. Visiting Beamish Museum is an absolutely perfect way to spend a day in the North-East of England and, for any first-time visitor to the area or even someone born and bred here, it is a ‘do-not-miss’ experience. It is the most popular attraction in and around Durham for good reason.

This museum is not the kind of museum that you should shy away from nor one that will quickly turn into a race to the exit (truth be told, some museums bore me after a while!). Oh no. Beamish Museum brings the history of the North-East to life; from the 1820’s to the 1950’s with plenty of stop offs in-between. As soon as you pass through the stable block entrance, it feels as though you have immediately stepped back in time. From the Victorian trams and vintage open-top buses to all of the staff members dressed in period-appropriate clothing, all 300 acres of Beamish Museum is set up to offer a full time travelling experience.

For the photographers out there, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for some of the most unique photos you’ll ever capture. Lens choice is very personal to all photographers but I normally either use the Fujifilm 23mm (either X100F or f/1.4) or the Fujifilm 35mm f/1.4 for the majority of my photos. Most recently however I used the Fujifilm 18mm f/1.4 purely for its weather resistance capabilities when combined with my Fujifilm X-T5.



Firstly, I’d always recommend arriving at the museum for opening time (10am) so that you have all day to explore at a leisurely pace. It can also get very busy, especially in school holidays and when the weather heats up, which means the earlier you visit the big-hitters, the better. Every time I’ve visited the museum, we’ve walked the entirety of the oval loop clockwise starting at the 1900’s pit village through the 1940’s farm to the 1900’s town (more on this below) before walking back to the entrance; it’s not as far as you think! However, this isn’t necessarily the best way to plan your day.

So, it would probably help if I set out everywhere that you can visit at Beamish Museum before giving a suggested itinerary of how best to ‘complete’ the museum. Obviously, take my view with a pinch of salt, every visit will be different and you could and should spend your day however you wish! For a visual guide, here’s a link to an interactive map.

  • 1900’s Pit Village
  • Colliery
  • 1940’s Farm
  • 1950’s Farm **COMING SOON**
  • Rowley Station
  • Fairground
  • 1900’s Town
  • 1950’s Town
  • 1820’s Pockerley Old Hall / Wagonway

To get the most out of your day at Beamish Museum, I would highly recommend jumping on any of the transport options that head from the entrance straight to the 1900’s town. There’s a tram stop immediately at the start that will take you straight there. The reason why I say to start at the 1900’s town is that, as you will see below, it is the highlight of any trip to Beamish but also the most popular. It will be relatively quiet if you visit as early as possible (no-one wants to wait an hour for ice cream) and you’ll be able to visit all of the shops in relative peace.

From the 1900’s town, you can easily wander down to the 1950’s town which, at the time of writing, is still under construction but currently features a small front street terrace with a hairdressers, a cafe (think homemade ice creams, milkshakes and a jukebox), the home of Norman Cornish, an artist from my adopted hometown of Spennymoor, and another fish and chip shop. There’s also the Welfare Hall, Coronation Park and Recreation Ground and replica police houses and a semi-detached house.

I would probably say that the next best place to visit in Beamish Museum would be the 1900’s pit village and the colliery. The pit village gives an extremely accurate representation of life in a mining community in the early years of the 20th century. There’s a Victorian school (try and master Booler in the playground), a chapel, miner’s cottages and Davy’s Fried Fish Shop – fish and chips cooked in beef dripping in coal-fired ranges! The colliery features a mine where you can don a hard hat and experience what it was like to spend your days working deep underground.

There are two options after the pit village, both within walking distance but in opposites directions of each other. You could head now to Pockerley Old Hall and the Pockerley Wagonway (admittedly, for me, this is somewhere that gets missed off regularly but is beautiful) or to the 1940’s farm/Rowley Station/fairground area before catching the vintage transport back to whichever you didn’t decide to walk to.

This will be a very full on day for the first time visitor, definitely in excess of 10,000 steps if you don’t take advantage of the free transport (and you should to be able to say you’ve been on the tram or bus), but after you’ve experienced Beamish Museum once you’ll be able to pick and choose where to visit next time.


Without doubt, the 1900’s town is the centre of all things Beamish and, as I said above, should be the first place you visit once inside the museum. You could easily spend most of the day here in the faithfully reconstructed high street complete with pub, stables, a bank, a garage, a co-operative store, a chemist, a photographers, masonic hall as well as the vintage sweet shop.

Ravensworth Terrace is home to a solicitors office and a dentist (where you can see how teeth were pulled out in the 1900’s).

Honestly, I love the town and I am fairly confident that you will too. I need to come back at Christmas time as I can only imagine how magical that would feel with the lights and the decorations. Perhaps a visit this year will be on the cards for Evelyn and maybe Chester too (yes, it’s dog friendly in the grounds)!


You’ll be spoilt for choice when considering where to eat here as there are some great options available. All of the places to eat are also accurate representations of the relevant time period which really adds to the feeling that you’ve stepped back in time.

My favourites would be the tea rooms (I loved the beef roll with red onion chutney, mustard and horseradish), Herron’s Bakery (takeaway some freshly baked bread and cakes), Beamish Delicious Ice Creams (cinder toffee is a must-have each and every time) and Davy’s Fried Fish Shop (extremely popular so you could visit early). I’d love to try the Sun Inn pub for traditional pub grub and John’s Café for 1950’s style food.

If you’re one for planning ahead, there are plenty of places to settle down for a picnic including Redman Park in the 1900s town complete with bandstand.


The best thing about Beamish Museum is that you can buy an unlimited pass which is valid for a whole 12 months meaning you can visit as often as you wish. This is great if you live close enough to really get your money’s worth and you’ll never have to worry about missing something. If you visit once every two months, each visit will cost you (as an adult) just over £4! That is incredible value for money. A side note however, the pass doesn’t cover special evening events like for Halloween or Christmas as separate tickets are required.

Adult – £24.95
Child (5-16) – £15.45
Senior (60+) – £18.95

For opening hours and all up to date information, head directly to the Beamish Museum website here.


I’ve been a strong advocate for the North East of England over the last couple of years and I am constantly amazed at just how beautiful this area of the UK is. Why not spend a weekend in the cathedral city of Durham, drink coffee at the best cafes in Newcastle or walk along the golden sand at Marsden Beach.

There’s plenty to do around here and, if you need any tips for Beamish Museum or the wider region, just leave a comment below.



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