Set in Stanley, Durham, the open air real life town 'museum' was a 15 minute metro ride followed by a 50 minute bus journey from our house (although a mere 27 minutes if we still had a car haha) and replicates what a Northern town would of been like in the early 20th century. Buildings and exhibits are all either real antiques that have been relocated or replicas and staff are dressed accordingly in outfits from the era.
There are many old trams and buses to help you navigate around the 300 acre estate, however Jake and I decided that on such a lovely day we'd just walk. First up we came across the Colliery Village. This is where there is a draft coal mine that is actually an original feature of the area and I was rather disappointed to find out it is closed during the winter months as I had psyched myself up to take the tour for the first time.
As well as the mine, reconstructed pit works and steam locomotives, the village is home to the school, church and miners cottages, the school in-particular a firm favorite on school trips (there were two while we were there), with scary headmasters, writing slate and metal rolling hoops to try and play with out in the school yard - I remember it all distinctively from my childhood visits.
The miners cottages, across the road from the school are a depiction of where I'd love to live! Cute, compact and minimal...in a way. A greenhouse at the bottom of the garden with goats and chickens in pens gives a lovely old fashioned sense of being self sufficient and the limited number of houses paired with the proximity to the church and school shows how a small village community would of felt. Uhh I so should of been born back then!
Oh, there was also a cage full of Canaries. Just like the ones that would of been used to detect gas in the mines. (If you look closely, at the first set of 4 photos in this post, you can seen the horribly teeny tiny cage that would of housed the birds on their gas hunting journey.)
By the time we'd had a little explore around there it was nearing lunch time so we set on our way, had a quick peek around the front of Old Pockerley Hall (a Georgian Manor Farm) which like the pit is closed in winter, and then found a quiet seat to sit and eat our picnic.
We finished up and had a lovely stroll to the Victorian town. A few birdies had told me that there had been a couple changes in the past few years and the smell of freshly baked bread catching our noses as we arrived, told me that a Bakery was one of those new additions.
The Masonic Temple from Sunderland was of much interest to Jake and I, being big 'conspiracy theorists' and obviously connecting the dots to that of the Illuminati. That's another story though! I swear I've never been in this building before either, though I can find no evidence of it being a newer addition. The grand hall was well and truely grand, with a glided 'G' on the ceiling apparently symbolizing any individuals own God...although the Masons were not a spiritual group, so that I found slightly contradictory.
The rest of the town shops are just as interesting as the next and it was always exciting to go into the Co-op as a kid as my Dad was a butcher for them for many years. Being older this time around made me appreciate different things and really enjoyed facts such as products coming in plain colour coded packages for the many people who couldn't read and the affordable red soap named carbolic soap, was used for everything from personal hygiene to laundry and dishes (I later bought a big bar to get it home and find out it's apparently great for acne!).
We obviously made purchases in the famous sweet shop too who make the sweets in house through the back for you to see. Afterwards we had a peek at the beautiful horses in the stables before heading to the row of professional's houses. The piano teacher, the dentist and the Solicitors. There's a real serving pub too but obviously we gave that a miss with being non-drinkers! I had lots of photos from inside the houses and stuff but this post is already ridiculously long without them....
The last leg of our journey around the estate we're to two places that weren't up and running until the summer aswell, but it was still lovely to walk through taking photos as it was only us there. The waggon way usually has a replica steam locomotive with carts to give visitors rides along the short length of track but all trains were tucked up in the 'great shed' - we still stopped by the platform for some posing pics though.Last but not least is my favorite place. I could stay there forever. Home Farm. I got talking to a goose who was rather tongue tied and we oinked at the poor lonely piggy who came over to say, 'Hi' which was a highlight for me. The pony in the photo above was housed in the Colliery village as were the silly goats.
A quick self timer photo together and a last shot of the Colliery village as we walked back to the entrance and our day was over. I am very thankful that it stayed such amazing weather for us baring in mind it was February! I cannot wait to go back too. Especially once the Chemist, Photographers and Police and Fire stations have been built.
A must for any North Easterners looking for a day out!! Have you been to Beamish? If not would you like to?