Film ID:
NEFA 9279



Visitor Tabs


Original film of the edition of the Tyne Tees Television series Treasure in Store in which presenter Alec Taylor is given a guided tour of Beamish Open Air Museum by its founder and director Frank Atkinson. Taylor guides us around the furnished cottages and shops, transport and farm exhibits, the rebuilding of a colliery, and Rowley railway station that form this industrial and social history museum.The programme was broadcast on 16 March 1976. Beamish Museum opened in 1972 in County Durham, and was the first open-air museum of its type in the country, modeled on a Scandinavian museum.

Credit: TTTV Tyne Tees Colour

General views of fields and pastoral landscape in a basin shaped valley bordered on the skyline by woods, and once a busy pithead. This is part of the National Coal Board-owned Beamish estate.

The commentary states: “Few people at the time thought a miner’s cottage or pit head worth preserving […] clues to a disappearing lifestyle, they were bulldozed into the ground.”

Close-ups follow of some of the stone remains of an old cottage.

General views of the building site as work progresses on the Beamish Museum.

The commentary talks about “rebuilding the past on its original scale”.

The presenter, Alec Taylor, walks through the site and speaks to camera: “England’s first open-air museum is underway at Beamish in 1970.” In the background the building work is going on. “Old buildings from all over the North East are brought to this 200 acre site, re-constructed and equipped with the kind of furniture or machinery that they once held.”

Builders work on the construction site.

Alec Taylor interviews Frank Atkinson, the museum’s director, on the building site. The interview continues in voiceover as men work on the site, lifting stone to re-build the walls of the original Chopwell Colliery, which was sited just up the road, and built in 1855. The re-construction also includes the Chaldron wagons on tracks that once carried coal from the mines to the colliers at ports such as Seaham Harbour, for export.

Alec Taylor and Frank Atkinson continue with the interview on site. They look at a mine shaft sinking winch built in 1867, which lowered men down into the shaft they were sinking. A photograph follows of miners using a winch to go down a shaft.

Alec Taylor and Frank Atkinson examine an old cage in which men were transported down into the coal shaft and coal was transported back up. They walk through a field where the re-constructed pit heap will be. Frank Atkinson points out where a terrace of miners’ cottages will be re-built, and workshops located.

Some of the old mining equipment awaits use in the museum across the site.

General view of re-constructed row of pitmen’s cottages, a Wills Woodbines enamel sign fixed to an upper floor exterior. A signpost stands in the foreground with directions to locations on the A690 and A689.

Inside one of the pitmen’s cottages, Alec Taylor sits in a rocking chair beside a cast iron range in which a fire is lit. A pair of miner’s boots rest on the fireguard to dry. This is the interior of a cottage of about 1890 from Edenwood in County Durham.

Photograph of a miner in front of the fire range. Close-up of a fire burning in the cottage cast iron range.

Alec Taylor interviews a Keeper in voiceover (perhaps Rosy Allen). There are shots of the furniture and ornaments collected and arranged in the miner’s cottage (as typical of those in a home in the period 1900 – 1910.) These include a fancy organ, a portrait of Queen Victoria, Staffordshire china ornaments, a range of candlesticks, and an American clock. The curator shows the presenter a clippy mat (also known as rag rugging and proggy mats). Close-up of a mat typical in a miner’s home at the time. Close-up of a tin bath. Alec Taylor and the Keeper continue talking.

Photograph still of miners working underground follow.

Shots of glasses that commemorate pit disasters engraved with the names of those who died. Frank Atkinson holds one of the engraved glasses that commemorates the Hartley Colliery disaster of 16 June 1862 in which 204 lost their lives. Frank Atkinson speaks of this to camera.

A group of school children wander around an indoor exhibition (probably the first held in Beamish Hall in 1971). General views of Beamish Hall and grounds.

Frank Atkinson pulls a pint at the bar of a re-construction of an Edwardian pub, named the Bobby Shafto, and serves Alec Taylor. He explains that the front of the pub comes from the Board Inn of Chester-le-Street and the bar comes from the Duke of Wellington in Darlington.

An old till rings up 1/- 11d and 3 farthings, the highest price available on the till. Alec Taylor is standing behind this till in the re-constructed chemist’s shop. He explains that some of the old pharmaceutical and apothecary jars and bottles were originally owned by John Walker, the inventor of the first friction match in 1827. The shop used to stand in Finkle Street, Stockton-on-Tees. It was discovered there in the early 1960s by Frank Atkinson. Photographic still of John Walker in his shop. Alec Taylor picks up a packet of a “Pick Me Up” tonic and reads out its long list of ailments cured.

Next, there is a shot of an old Edwardian cast iron double bed covered with a Durham quilt. The bedroom is hung with other quilts with elaborate designs. The commentary runs: “In the eighteenth century some miners’ wives would keep their families alive by selling quilts.” And “In the 1930s the Rural Industries Bureau saw quilting as a means to families helping themselves. So, began to arrange for quilts to be sold as far away as London.” Various shots record the different designs.

Exhibition wall lettering reads: “How old is old?” and a display of pans, razors, milk bottles and cups is shown. Nostalgic stills of women using various household or domestic utilities and of workers at farms follow.

General view of Home Farm of the Beamish estate. Alec Taylor and Frank Atkinson examine a gin-gang housing a horse-drawn wheel (for threshing), which came from Ponteland. Various shots focus on the wheel and drive shafts of the machinery in the threshing barn. The two walk out into the courtyard of the farm where there are several two-wheeled farm carts that have been collected for the museum.

Frank Atkinson takes a photograph of an Edwardian Co-Operative Store on Front Street in the village of Annfield Plain in County Durham. He discusses some of the details of the building with an architectural expert (?). The building will be re-constructed in part at the Beamish Museum.

The restored Gateshead 10 electric tram car (built in 1925) travels along a track. A conductor issues tickets to a group of young school children who take their seats on the tram along with their teacher. A man operates the tram. Travelling shot from the tram with cutaways to the children and teacher seated in the car.

Men are fixing the railway tracks of a line at Beamish where they are re-building a North Eastern railway complex. Alec Taylor and Frank Atkinson sit on a bench of the Rowley railway station, which has been re-constructed on the Beamish estate. There’s a general view of the tram car operating across the lines.

Various shots record a stone built cabin from Northumberland and a weigh bridge.

Alec Taylor and Frank Atkinson discuss when the Beamish Museum will finally be complete, and that the collecting will never be over.

Photographic stills of miners, living conditions, a canteen, hay making and women washing clothes close out the documentary.