Christmas at Beamish Museum: 'It's the magic of the place!'

Christmas is one of Beamish Museum's busiest times. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Christmas is a time when many reflect on past times, and there is nowhere better to do that than a museum famous for allowing people to see how people lived in the past.

About 100,000 people visit Beamish Museum in County Durham during the festive period, making it one of its busiest times of the year.

Decked out in decorations from across the eras, visitors are hoping to get in the Christmas spirit by enjoying the traditions of yesteryear, listening to carols and brass bands and enjoying some old fashioned delicacies.

Paul Foster, the museum's event manager, said: "I love the atmosphere and the decorations and the music.

“What we do is we try to tell the story of the North East during our four distinct historical periods here at Beamish. So there’s the Georgian area, then there’s the Edwardian era in 1913, then there's the town and the pit village.

"And then our most recent era is the 1950s as we move with the time."

Rosie Nichols, keeper of social history at Beamish Museum, was among those to help decorate one of the 1950s council houses with decorations typical of the time - a centrepiece made of dyed feathers.

She said: "It's a lot smaller than what we have now. It's a lot more spartan."

Rosie Nichols, from Beamish Museum, tops the feather centrepiece in one of the 1950s homes. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Many of the decorations are donated by members of the public, and is also an opportunity for the museum to hear from people and how they celebrate Christmas.

Ms Nichols added: "It's really nice listening to people's memories and I think witnessing them remember things they thought they had forgotten."

The museum, which opened in 1972 and was England's first regional open air museum, now has 400 people working there and hundreds of volunteers.

Among those getting into the Christmas spirit is volunteer Eric Grimmer.

He said: "I go into the fifties town at times, and that to me is seeing my childhood in a museum which is a bit scary. You don't want to be doing that.

Eric Grimmer is one of the volunteers who helps Beamish celebrate Christmas. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

"But that said, it's showing the younger generation about life through the times how their grandparents lived. In years to come, it'll still be going and Beamish will expand and they'll be able to show their grandchildren."

Their efforts are not lost on those who visit the museum at this time of year.

"I can't put it into words", said one woman enjoying the atmosphere. "There are no words really, it's just magical."

Even Father Christmas says he particularly enjoys his visit to Beamish each year. "It's just the magic of the place," he said.

"I love coming here: the old buildings, seeing the old traditions and meeting the people.

"It's just a wonderful, wonderful place."

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