Sweetbriar Dreams

So where shall we go on our journey today?

Friday, 30 August 2013

So, Where Shall We Go On Our Journey Today? The Beamish Museum, Co. Durham

Family is such a strong word and can mean completely different things to different people.  To me it is a strong steady word.  It's a word that fills me with comfort, warmth, security and trust.  My family used to be within a few miles of each other, our family Christmases and most weekends were teas around one set of Grandparents and the following day around the other Grandparents.  The whole family would be present, all cousins growing up together.  However, we are all over the show now.  The family is expanding, relationships become more complex and more and more miles separate us.  Facebook, Skype, Email, are wonderful ways of keeping in touch, but have they become the norm?

Social media was taking a back seat this week with a trip to Co. Durham in the North East of England where one of my wonderful uncles lives (well, he is more like a big brother to me).  He moved to this area many years ago so it was high time we paid him and the family a visit.  So, you know the drill, cup of tea and cake time, kick those heels off and I will take you on a trip to just some of sights of the Beamish Museum (it's HUGE and so is this post (49 photos) so if you fancy you can just click on one of the pictures and it will take you to the slides that give you a larger look at the shots taken without me rambling on) (amendment - part two when we went later in October is here).

Now, where do we start?  Well, let's start at the very beginning a very good place to start!  As you enter this fabulous Museum you notice the tram lines and then, yes, there they were, resplendent in their nostalgia - trams and their drivers!
The trams and pathways take you to different parts of this enormous living museum.  We couldn't make it all round so the rest would have to be done a different day, but we did get around a third done.  The first part was the Town.  This had real shops, real terraced houses, a real garage, a real Masonic Hall and a real Bank!  It was just exquisite to me who loves her nostalgia and believe me, my camera got through one set of batteries with just this street and I could have easily taken so many more (but I will just stick to the basics for your own sake and sanity).  This Masonic Hall was being demolished in Durham when the Museum were trying to source one and they had to negotiate on site with the bulldozers in full swing.  Luckily they secured the frontage which was painstakingly put back together for the Museum at its current location.  My goodness, what a rewarding job.  The building next door is Barclays Bank.
Having a sweet tooth, the Jubilee Confectionery Shop was going to be essential for me to pop my head in and it didn't disappoint.
In the back they were making the 'tooth rot' sweets but this would have to be another day to look in there as it was PACKED!  Instead we waited in line to buy some ready made in their large glass jars and for me, well it had to be didn't it, chocolate!  I loved the ceiling along with the light fittings - the attention to detail was incredibly high and it gave me some great ideas for the dolls house.
At the back of the Confectioners were the stables and then these impressive beauties.  Now, as well as my Grandma and Grandad being in the fire service during the War, this family trip included two retired firemen (my hubby and my Uncle) and my cousin in law who is an active fire fighter.  So, with dreamy eyes they all focused on these beauties.
Across the road from us was the garage which was a huge hit with Mr Teenager.  The old cars, the smell of grease and oil and lots and lots of very technical engineering.  Not the computer related diagnostics of today. 
The workshop at the back was full of everything you could ever wish for.  Mr Teen could have easily stayed all day.
The old cars were dotted around the garage and for someone who insists on having manual windows it was great to see these magnificent cars that still run - see electronics are not everything - less to go wrong!
 Chains, pulleys, wheels, vices - my word!  So many things to see in just one corner.
The next shop to visit was the Co-operative Store which again had been reassembled from elsewhere.  The shelves were full, I mean absolutely full of colourful, sturdy containers.  Can you remember buying a bag of broken biscuits?  They were selling these for 50p a bag.  I love the herb drawers too with the herbs drying in front.  What about the till?  My eyes just couldn't take it all in.
How about buying a stone of potatoes?
We had to drag ourselves away from this shop but next door was the Haberdashery.  Again, full to the hat brim with fabrics, cotton, shoes, buttons.  Everything that you could possibly wish for.  
On the ceiling above us were hanging nightshirts and lots of copper piping.
Can you remember when the shop staff used to put your money and the bill into a cannister and it used to shoot above your head by vacuum to the cashier?  Your change would then come back and receipt.  Yes, I remember this and it is only because an old store called Fairheads in Ilford where I used to accompany my Grandma and my Mum when shopping, kept these going when everything else was modernised.  I was always fascinated by them.
Now, are you still with me?  Let's leave the shops and go across the road to this group of terraced houses.
The camera was working its magic and could have blown up at any point as I needed to capture EVERYTHING for ideas for the dolls house.  I really felt at home in this first house which was the Teacher of Music's house.  You know I love Victoriana and my Teens were looking in horror at me while I was saying that this is how I want our home!
The colour, the clutter, the cosiness, oh leave me in that room PLEASE!  If it wasn't for the crowds I don't think I would have left! We walked into each house and I couldn't stop admiring the wall papers and the way things had been set out.  This room was set for afternoon tea.
The Teacher's bedroom had the oil lamps all set up with their intricate carvings reflecting into the old mirror, see how the age has affected the reflection.  
Just one of the bedrooms was next.  The wash jug and stand, the very comfy large soft mattress, the chamber pot.  Inside I was squealing because I was soooo happy.  This is my sort of place, if only I can find a REAL one!
Of course there would have to be servant's quarters somewhere and one of the houses showed the maid's bedroom.
Then the heart of the home, the kitchen.  This one was in the Teacher's house.  See, Granny Squares are everywhere, even back in the day!
And this one, which I think was in the Dentist's House.  What an impressive range!
Speaking of the Dentist, I warn you, don't trust the smiles on this Dentist's Assistant.  The machinery she is standing next to is the drill, which would be turned while the dentist set to work.  She said by the time it was ready the numbness in your gums would have ceased.  Well, at least the chair looked comfy!
In the next room it was even more horrific!  The tools for dentistry!  In some wars did you know that they used to extract the teeth of the dead and use them for dentures?  Happy Days?!
OK, deep breaths, feeling alright?  Do you need the loo?... here's a nice comfy one that is rare as it is inside, tiled, stained glass, ornate bath, toilet and sink.  This must have been a very rich household.  More loo's later for the not so rich.
The terrace also contained a nursery.  So many things to play with, no gadgets here, just exquisite engineering and social interaction face to face rather than screen to screen.
No this is not a library, this is the Solictor's Office.
Again, no computer gadgetry here.  Everything thought about and learned, paper and books well thumbed and a desk full of business.  Have you noticed the coal stained ceiling?  A fantastic touch to a fire that would have been stoked up and left as the person in the room was too busy to be watching this.
So, that's a taster of the terrace.  After a brief refreshment stop we walked up a hill through the Ironworks and then to the Railway Station.
You can leave your baggage here, no need to worry I am sure it will be safe.
Let's get our tickets.  Again no need to worry about the system crashing, only the Station Master's brain can crash here.
Would you like to freshen up in the Ladies Waiting Room?  I wonder when they decided the sign had to be placed there?
Our carriage awaits.  I had to take a shot of the handle because I can remember getting on the train to my Great Grandma's and having the open door carriages where you turned the brass handle to get on.  Oh the memories were flooding back in this place.
The tracks, the machinery, just wonderful.
Even a Weigh Bridge!
Walking along a bit further we came to a farm.  By now, we were flagging so this was a brief look with a more detailed one on our next visit.  Do you need the loo?  Now, this IS an outside one - the Ash Closet.  Where I come from it would have been called the thunder box!  This one had two sizes for the holes, but the sign said there is one with five different sizes!
The dry stone walls with the farm cottage in the background was wonderful.
And the vegetable garden, very productive.
Back past these great walls.
And on to have a 20 minute tram ride.  By now, we were noticing more trams and their ever concentrating drivers.
Even the tram stops were detailed with bricks showing different names of companies.

This was to be our tram.
Top deck for us.
And this was to be our conductor.  Now, he looks friendly enough doesn't he, but things were different back in the day.  This conductor as well as working on the tram and dressing the part, also has to talk the talk.  So this shot needs to be explained.  He got off the tram and shouted up at the young boys in front of us (who were perfectly innocent) that if they move their seats one more time, he will come up there and wrap the iron bar around their necks.  This went on for some time to raucous laughter from the road side and the tram.  The boys saw the funny side in the end and then started to shout back.  This was what the conductor wanted and got even more graphic as to what he would do.  With a smile and a wink he got back on rang the bell and off we set again.
Above us the beautiful ornate lamps and cables.
In front, the buses.
In the distance the Pit Village and Colliery
One to come back to next time I'm afraid.
And so after a packed day it was with regret that we said goodbye to Durham and our family.
The day was educational, relaxed and very happy with perfect weather to help us through.  We will definitely be back before the year is out (we heard that Christmas at the Beamish is spectacular).  For those of you who haven't been, DO!  The tickets are unlimited as you can't get round everything in one day, so what you pay for your first visit covers you for as many times as you like for 12 months!  I can't recommend this place enough.

I hope you have enjoyed this MAMMOTH post and I have taken you down memory lane in some way.  I'm going for a rest now after working on this post for nearly two whole evenings, but it has been so much fun especially with the tonnes of photos to go through of the terraced houses.  My dolls house is going to be packed to the rafters with the ideas and memories.

Take care.


(Remember that if you want to see a larger version of my photos just click on one and a slide will appear)

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  1. Looks to be a fascinating place and thankfully the trams weren't horse drawn!

  2. Oh Chel, I've always wanted to go to Beamish, but never got there yet! I don't drive very far and when the children were younger used to try to get on coach trips to Beamish, but they were always fully booked.

    I want to go even more now, a very lovely, informative post.

    Have a happy weekend, lovely

    Love Claire xxx

  3. What a fabulous place! There is something similar at Ironbridge Gorge, but not on this scale. I love the shops. If only it weren't so far away!

  4. Brilliant collection of photos. It is many years since I was last there, and seeing this post has made me want to go again. I think these living museums are wonderful, you really get a feel for the times.

  5. Wow Chel what a post - I'm exhausted! Beamish has certainly grown since my last visit but I do remember the fantastic atmosphere in the houses. I think I would join you in the Music teachers house although if I had that bed I'd probably never want to get up! I must admit when I do dream about how wonderful it would have been to live in the past I remind myself about dentists - eeeew scary stuff! Thank you so much for this tour x Jane

  6. Wow, what a fantastic place. I wish it was nearer. I love all the houses, the room with the dining table and pram is so beautiful.

  7. Wow, I enjoyed this tour! Thank you for sharing!

  8. This was delightful Chel - what a lovely day. So many potties too! Ha!

  9. Oh a wonderful blog post, makes me want to come visit. Actually we are planning a trip to England somewhere, in about 4 years after my husband retires. Have no ideas where to go or what to do, we will just have to make a plan as we get closer to the 'trip' dates.

  10. Hi Chel, thanks for sharing all those wonderful pictures of the museum. I love visiting museums like that! Thanks for a really nice blog post. So sorry to hear about the bad haircut on Coco. Take care and wishing you a wonderful weekend and week.

  11. Beautiful photos! My husband and I have been talking about a trip to Yorkshire again and then on to County Durham. A few reasons: Durham Cathedral, the fact that I've been reading a lot of N.T. Wright (bishop of Durham), and that we've been watching old 'George Gently' movies. Must see Durham!

  12. Oh Chel, thank you for sharing! Ex-RAF hubby and I loved the photos! What a tour!!

  13. Fabulous Chel. I've heard of this place but never been - thanks for all the wonderful photos - it must have been fantastic to go back in time this way.

  14. I loved this so much. What a fantastic place. My Granny cane from a wee mining village just outside Durham, so i have lots of happy memories of visiting her family when I was small.
    Thank you for taking the time to share such a wonderful place with us xxx

  15. What a fabulous day out you must have had, great photos.

  16. Very interesting. I visited Beamish many years ago when I was a teenager, when I think it was just opened. It has clearly expanded a lot.

  17. Resplendant indeed♫ Enjoyed your 49 photos♫ My Top Shot: http://lauriekazmierczak.com/wired/

  18. This looks like a photographer's paradise! I'm not sure if you could get my camera and me OUT of there :)

  19. I am enamoured of the sweet shop...sigh.

    What a interesting place to visit, I bet you filled up a camera card or two.


  20. What an amazing place to be able to become a part of history.

    Wonderful to have you be a part of "Oh, the PLACES I've been!"

    - The Tablescaper

  21. I don't even know where to start! First of all when I got to the bit about the toilet "Display only"... like someone would have sat their caboose on there and had a wee!! LOL...
    Also, at the start I could really relate, it seems family is here and there and far these days, I'm from a military family and my exhusband is military, so we moved so much!! I'm glad you got to see your Uncle! and what an amazing place! One the photo with the pound of potatoes I wonder what the "D" meant? was that a money symbol?
    I hope the rest of your weekend is awesome!
    Tammy x

    1. Hi Tammy, I'll answer you on email too, but for others that may have wondered what "d" means, this means old pence. xx

  22. I don't even know where to start! First of all when I got to the bit about the toilet "Display only"... like someone would have sat their caboose on there and had a wee!! LOL...
    Also, at the start I could really relate, it seems family is here and there and far these days, I'm from a military family and my exhusband is military, so we moved so much!! I'm glad you got to see your Uncle! and what an amazing place! One the photo with the pound of potatoes I wonder what the "D" meant? was that a money symbol?
    I hope the rest of your weekend is awesome!
    Tammy x

  23. Thanks for the lovely vacation Chel....:) Just what I needed after a long and busy work week! You are such a wonderful guide and I love all the detail you give your readers. I think I speak for others as well as myself when I say I feel like I was there with you! I am anxious to see what ideas come to life in the doll house! Enjoy your weekend my friend across the pond!

    Blessings, Vicky
    Life On Willie Mae Lane

  24. Hi Chel, thank you for taking us on a historical trip of Durham. Looking at those photos, reminds me of Hercule Poi rot's show. England is in my bucket list of countries to visit this year. Would be nice to visit Durham(God willing).

    Take care and have a good week.


  25. I love all those old vehicles! What a fabulous day out.

  26. I enjoyed that post and I loved stepping into the houses thanks to you!

  27. What a wonderful tour! Thanks so much for sharing these photos.

  28. Wonderful tour... Thank you for joining in 'Weekly Top Shot #98' Hope to see you next Saturday for #99...

  29. All that lovely vintage goodness - I think I'd never leave if I ever visited!

    Nina x

  30. You go to the best places! Love the teacher with the grannies! And it's a good thing that sign was there so no one would be tempted. ;-)

  31. What an amazing place! I'd love to visit and can see that it would be impossible to see everything in one day. I hope you get back at Christmas and then post lots of lovely photos.

  32. What a fun-filled, fully-packed trip! Lots of history and yummy sweets!!! It was like turning back time.
    Ann @ Cairn Cottage (http://cairncottage.blogspot.com/)

  33. How lovely! What a wonderful outing! You captured so many fabulous pictures! So many memories I'm sure you will cherish forever. Thankyou for sharing them with us!

  34. What you said about family was done so beautifully ... & I agree with my whole heart. Steady -- I like that -- & it's what I hope to be for my children & their families when they have them someday.

    About the dentist using teeth from the dead -- EEEkkkk! Hadn't ever heard that before!

    And the stone wall ... I think that was my favorite. So beautiful.
    Looks like you had a great trip.
    I enjoyed every pic!
    Thanks for sharing.

  35. What an incredible place to visit...a real step back in time. I well remember the shops with change whizzing overhead, seats for customers, goods wrapped in blue paper bags. So much has changed.
    Thank you for visiting me.


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