North East News

Beamish Celebrates Golden Jubilee

Beamish Museum is marking its Golden Jubilee in 2020 and is inviting groups to celebrate the milestone during a trip to the award-winning attraction.

The open air museum in County Durham was founded in 1970 by Frank Atkinson, the museum’s first Director, to preserve the region’s heritage for future generations. Beamish Museum is now the North East’s most popular visitor attraction, welcoming more than 800,000 visitors a year from around the world, with more than 500 staff and over 500 active volunteers.

Frank Atkinson observed how the region was changing dramatically, with industries such as coal mining, shipbuilding and manufacturing disappearing along with the communities that served them. He wanted to preserve the everyday ways of life in the region for future generations to see and experience, including customs, traditions and dialect. Having visited Scandinavian folk museums in the early 1950s, Frank was intrigued and inspired by their concept and set out to collect for and create an open air museum along the lines of those he had seen in Europe for the people of the North East of England.

Rhiannon Hiles, Beamish’s Deputy Director, has worked at the museum for 25 years, starting out as a volunteer, then working in teams across the museum before becoming Deputy Director.
She said: “We’re very excited and proud to be celebrating the museum’s Golden Jubilee in 2020 with our fantastic staff, volunteers, visitors and supporters.

“Beamish is known around the world as one of the largest and well-known open air museums and is part of many people’s own heritage, and has a special place in the hearts of many people and communities. We hope as many people as possible will come along and visit us and join in our special 50th anniversary celebrations during the year.

“We’ve got lots planned to mark 50 years of Beamish Museum and also celebrate the amazing support that has allowed us to preserve and share the history of the North East and its people for the past five decades. With continued support, the museum will continue to flourish.

“We hope to see you at the Beamish Museum to be part of this very special milestone!”

The award-winning Beamish Museum is a must-see part of any visit to the North of England.
At Beamish, groups can take a tram ride back in time to discover what life was like in the 1820s, early 1900s, 1940s and 1950s.

Learn about 1800s quilting at the quilter’s cottage, take a trip down a real coal mine, do a spot of Edwardian shopping, discover what life was like on the Home Front during the Second World War and take part in a range of activities in the 1950s welfare hall.

Throughout 2020, there is a packed programme of daytime events for visitors to enjoy, with no extra charge.

Join in with birthday parties and learn about childhood in the 1820s, early 1900s, 1940s and 1950s during February Half Term Happy Birthday Beamish! (15th to 23rd February 2020).

See an extraordinary line-up of steam locomotives and fascinating road steam vehicles at the Great North Steam Fair (2nd to 5th April 2020).

Enjoy an authentic Georgian Fair at Pockerley Waggonway with pedlars, entertainers and strolling musicians (15th to 17th May 2020).

Be transported to the days of rock ‘n’ roll, Teddy boys, Pathé News and petticoats as you dance the day away to live music at the Festival of 50s (9th to 12th July 2020).

Groups can enjoy Dainty Bites, a lunchtime or afternoon buffet, available Monday to Friday (local term time only, booking essential), and served in a private room overlooking the picturesque 1900s Town street.
There’s free coach parking and free admission for coach drivers and group visit organisers (minimum 15+ paying visitors). Beamish has been awarded Coach Friendly Status by The Confederation of Passenger Transport UK.

To find out more, contact the Bookings Officer on 0191 370 4026, email: or visit