Saturday, April 02, 2005

Beamish for research

Yesterday, I decamped to the Beamish Open Air Museum for a spot of research on the up coming regional saga.
I last visited in 1992 but remembered the town at least was from the appropriate era. I also remembered the tension from being there with my outlaws and my eldest having a poo in his nappy and my dh becoming annoyed because it was a cloth nappy and it went everywhere. It was not a happy trip.
Yesterday was much better. Beamish has expanded and all parts were open. We first went to the colliery village and saw the pit houses. The adult slept in the front room and the children upstairs. One house was laid out for Methodists (ie teetotallers) and the other as if a Roman Catholic family lived there (they had wine glasses on the table). The third was the house of a widow who took in laundry and whose two sons worked in the pit. The fires were burning in the RC and the widow's house. We went to the school and the children agree if reminded then of their village school. My middle informed me that the school got out the old desks from time to time. She had even had a number above her peg in the girls cloakroom.
We then took the bus (it had red leather seats) to the town. The town was pretty much as I remembered it except they had added a motor and cycle shop. The Co-op's traveling ball system of getting change fascinated the children. For a lady, the assistant wrapped a package in brown paper with string tied in a loop so she could carry it hanging off her fingers, and for a gentleman -- no loop so he could carry it under his arm. After the town we went to Plockerly manor, a 1820 recreation complete with Georgian landscape. It was the house of a yeoman. They had hams smoking in the upstairs passage, and a fire burning in the large kitchen. The *servants* had just finished the polishing of the copper kettles and these were on the long table.
We then went down to the Waggonway -- a short track such was used in 1820 for transporting coal. The younger two had a ride on the steam elephant while I waited for the eldest to finish his ablutions. We then sat in the waiting room by the fire, waiting for the other two.
We did not go to the Home Farm or the main railway station or the fair or the resource centre. All places I will go to next time I visit. As I live in Northumberland it was the same price to join for a year as it was to go for one visit.
The things I loved best were the little things -- the packaging of the food in the co-op, the houseware items and the brands used. The different sorts of flooring. The clothing. The smells. The way the tram and bus felt.
It is a fantastic resource and one I intend to use again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Michelle, did you not go down the mine? We did, when we visited your part of the world last summer, and the guide told us fabulous snippets of information (and also scared my 7-y-o at the idea of sharing his space with rats he wouldn't be able to see with only one little candle to light the way). DH also did the classic male thing of wandering off without telling us where he was going - so DS and I ended up having to call security to look for him... but that's another story (and his version of it does not match mine and DS's - he claims he did tell us where he was going. Er, no...) :)