Beamish, Part 1: The Home Farm

Beamish, Part 1: The Home Farm

When I was planning our trip to northern England, I stumbled upon a Pinterest pin for a place called Beamish.  The description called it an “open air living history museum” located in County Durham, England. Having been to something similar in Jamestown, Virginia, I thought it might be worth checking out.  It turned out, however, that Beamish was much bigger than anything I could have imagined.

This museum is like no other I have ever visited.  There are four distinct places and time periods, which are re-created down to the most minute detail.  It would not be practical for me to share everything that we saw and experienced in one blog post, so I am going to do a series of posts about Beamish.  Hands down, it was my favorite place on our trip.

Let’s start with The Beamish Home Farm, portraying what life was like for British civilians during the early 1940s.  There was a farmhouse, farm buildings, two cottages, a field, a duck pond, and a large shed.

The farmhouse had been modernized, following the installation of electric power and an Aga cooker in the scullery.

Kitchen Beamish Home Farm 1940s wwii

Because it was wartime, the focus of most farms was on crops. This was especially evident in the small storage room containing the harvest and other supplies.  (I’m pretty sure the Adidas bag is not supposed to be there, though!  LOL)

pantry food stores beamish home farm 1940s wwii

The farm also features breeds of sheep, cattle, pigs and poultry that would have been typical for the time. We met a very large pig named Molly, who was eager to get some apples from a Beamish employee.

beamish home farm 1940s wwii pig livestock molly

There was a lot of authentic farm equipment from that time period, but to be honest, I didn’t know what most of it was.  I did notice a portable steam engine, left for collection as part of a wartime scrap metal drive.

beamish home farm scrap metal drive 1940s wwii

In peace time, the cottages would have housed farm laborers, but during WWII, their purpose changed. One housed a family of evacuees, and the other served as a billet for members of the Women’s Land Army (WLA), a.k.a. Land Girls.  There was no mistaking that we were looking at a scene from wartime Britain:  blackout paper sat upon a chair next to the window and a there was a helmet near the door, ready to be grabbed if the air raid siren sounded.

beamish home farm 1940s wwii blackout paper

beamish home farm 1940s wwii helmet hard hat air raid

The Land Girls’ cottage had little in the way of furnishings.  The Land Girls took very few possessions with them when they reported for duty.  Despite the barrenness of it, it was still easy to see that women lived in the cottage. Nylon stockings left to dry by the fireplace, photos arranged around the vanity mirror, and so on.

Beamish home farm 1940s wwii land girls

beamish home farm 1940s wwii land girls homefront


Beamish is located at postcode DH9 0RG in County Durham, England.  Telephone 0191 370 4000. Open daily at 10:00 AM except holidays. Beamish recently received a £10.9 million grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to add a 1950s section, which should be open by 2021.