Nope, not a quote from Lewis Carrol – not a Snark or Jabberwocky anywhere in sight.

Beamish (Saturday 16th June) is The Living Museum of the North just outside of Durham. Think something like an oversized Old Sydney Town done with a heck of a lot of money and time (it was evidently open when I was last through here in 1988 but it can’t have been fully registered on thr tourist trail … or at least it didn’t register with me).

Set on a massive site there are several themed areas – a 19th Century Pit Village (showing the working conditions down Mine … and there’s a section of an old drift mine [i.e. one driven into the side of a hill rather than down a shaft … it gets down to 4’8″ and I can tell you that as 6’1.5″ that was bloody uncomfortable. Some of the mine faces (not there, but in the same coalfields) got down to 18″

Mine owners were, of course, complete utter bastards … all piecework rates, and they didn’t pay for travel time from the mine head to the coalface which could be a two miles or more. So that nominal 8 hour shift might be closer to 10 hours with travel time. Miners had to buy their own tools, even!

The Lamp Store/Workshop for the Drift Mine (i.e. driven into the side of a hill and all on one level) – the first generation of Safety Lamps couldn’t be re-lit in the mine, so the Miners had to walk all the way back to where they were issued and repaired if they went out … and were docked time for doing so (the coalface could be up to a couple of miles in from the entrance)
Steam Engine house at the shaft Mine (off frame to left).

A 1900’s Town and Railway Station with shops chock full of actual 1900’s brand goods (not for sale) plus the usual touristy repro stuff … Co-Op stores for Groceries, Clothes, Hardware … a fully equipped Garage with a fair chunk of era appropriate Motorcycles on display.

One of two Traction Engines that were actually driving (slowly) around the front courtyard of the Shaft Mine facility while I was there.
The train Station … the train works but there’s only around 150 meters of track for it to run on (off frame behind me)
Some of the Veteran cars onsite

Then there’s a 1940’s Farm showing the joys of working on the land in wartime with rationing etc.

A 1820’s Manor House with a Tramway using a very early steam train. The Manor House was dark and gloomy on the ground floor (not or little artificial light) as were the servant’s quarters squeezed in at the rear of the 1st Floor … but the family rooms were both spacious and well lit with large windows. Furnishings were sparse – this being just at the very beginning of the Industrial Revolution when ‘things’ hadn’t quite yet become so widely available and cheap that you could fill a room with them.

The Tramway – like the Steam Train, it runs on only about 150 meters of plateway.

There were parts of some of these where expansion work was going on and a large central portion is a 1950’s Town under construction.

I only wish I could come back and see it all in several years time. <sigh>

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s