Beamish, The Living Museum of the North is marking its Golden Jubilee in 2020. To celebrate, we’ve got five Beamish facts – one from each decade the award-winning open-air museum has been open!

Frank Atkinson Beamish Museum founder


Beamish Museum was founded in 1970 by Frank Atkinson to preserve the region’s heritage for future generations. Frank found inspiration from Scandinavian folk museums and wanted to build a museum to bring the region’s history to life. Beamish Museum is now the North East’s most popular visitor attraction, welcoming visitors from around the world, with over 500 staff and over 500 volunteers. 

Co-op building at Beamish Museum pictured in the 1800s and rebuilt during 1980s


Visitors can enjoy a spot of Edwardian shopping in the Co-op store in The 1900s Town, but did you know that the exhibit opened at the museum in 1984? The building was moved, brick by brick from Annfield Plain in Durham and rebuilt at the museum. There are three departments in the museum’s Co-op – the grocery, the drapery and the hardware store. 

Old Pockerley Hall at Beamish Museum


The museum’s Silver Jubilee year in 1995 saw the opening of Pockerley Old Hall, which tells the story of life in the early 1800s. Pockerley has stood on its hilltop spot for several centuries, the first record of a settlement on the site was in 1183 in the Buke of Boldon (the region’s equivalent of the Domesday Book). 

Inside the lamp room at Beamish Museum


In 2009, the lamp cabin was opened in The 1900s Pit Village. In the exhibit, which is a recreation of a typical colliery lamp cabin, you can learn about the importance of safety lamps, which were introduced in 1815 after an explosion at Felling Colliery, now part of Gateshead, which killed 92 men and boys. 

Joe the Quilter's cottage at Beamish Museum


The quilter’s cottage opened in 2018. It is a recreation of the “lost” home of renowned Georgian quilter Joseph Hedley, whose murder in 1826 shocked the nation. Discover the story of quilting and the growth of cottage industries in the early 1800s. The quilter’s cottage was the first building to open as part of the ongoing Remaking Beamish project. 

Once complete, the £20million project will feature a 1950s Town, including cinema, shops, houses and a 1950s Farm. A replica of Leasingthorne Colliery Welfare Hall and Community Centre, near Bishop Auckland, is now open at Beamish Museum, the first building in The 1950s Town.

An expansion of the Georgian area will include an inn where visitors can stay overnight! Thanks to the money raised by National Lottery players, the project has been awarded £10.9million by The National Lottery Heritage Fund.


Golden Jubilee celebrations begin with a week of exciting activities during February Half Term, Happy Birthday Beamish (15 - 23 February 2020). Join in with birthday parties around the museum. Try your hand at embroidery at Pockerley Old Hall, play Edwardian party games in The 1900s Town, make your own party decorations in The 1900s Pit Village, play pass the parcel at The 1940s Farm and visit the 1950s Welfare Hall where the party will be in full swing! 

Click here to find out more about Beamish Museum's Golden Jubilee >> 

Click here to find out more about Beamish Museum and start planning your visit >> 




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