Empire Flag Day – Beamish Museum

Beamish Empire Weekend

The sky was blue and the sun was shining as we set off early to Beamish Museum last Sunday.  It’s been a few years since we have been to the attraction and I have been watching with interest to  their Facebook page updates including the development of the chemist shop, bakery, and photography shop at the bottom end of the town centre. Any child raised the North East will remember coming here with school to see the sweetie shop and getting put down the mine.  Imogen went on her Victorian themed day with school in Year one and loved her Victorian school experience even though the threat of the cane scared her a little.  Beamish Museum is continually working hard to secure funding to expand and there are more plans in the pipework with a £10 million grant to develop an 1950’s town. This will be extremely exciting and an exciting addition when completed.

Empire and Flag Day

The Empire flag day has been organised by the community team at Beamish Museum with the goal of inviting as many of the uniformed groups down over the weekend to participate in a large parade, starting at 2.30pm.  History buffs will know more, but the Empire day was very popular in the early 20th century and involved community groups making flags for the parade to sell for charity-some of our well-known charities such as Oxfam and Royal British Legion were formed at this time.  We offered this to our Rainbows and Brownies as a family day trip and were expecting 14 of our girls from both units.

Empire and Flag Day

The museum opened up at 10am but Alan was keen to get there early as he had spotted there were some Geocaches next to the car park! The event had tickets for £6 per person for the uniformed group but as we hadn’t been for a while and knew we would be around this summer we decided to get the family of four annual pass at £48.50.  In the queue, we saw lots of Guiding groups, Scouts, Sea Cadets and Girls and Boys Brigades.  We knew quite quickly that the Empire day had certainly drew in the crowds.

We had arranged to meet our friends the Coulsons and Walkers down at the bandstand at 12 noon for a picnic so we thought the best plan of action would be to head to the town centre.  Jumping on a very squashed tram from the main entrance we were soon at the town centre.  Our plan of action was to head straight to the bakery as Alan wanted to try an Empire biscuit (essentially a massive iced jammy dodger) and the kids wanted cookies.  Both went down quickly!

Empire Biscuits

Next stop was a  meander through the chemist shop looking at the packets of shampoo powers, salts, herbs and other interesting scary looking medical implements. The volunteers behind the chemist counter were fantastic, engaging with the visitors and explaining this was where doctors would buy their equipment in Victorian times. A suffragette came over in full costume and starting asking Imogen about her badges-most impressed with the hostess and cooks badges. A bit like in guiding, the Beamish volunteers are a huge asset to Beamish they are friendly, informative and really ‘get into costume’ and without them the place must be a lot less interesting.

Beamish Town

After a quick coffee stop in the large canteen (above the Co-op shop) we decided to soak in the atmosphere around the bandstand to wait for our friends. Imogen and Abigail were desperate to roll down the hills so we let them run around like dafties.

Beamish Hill Rolling

Friends assembled and picnic eaten, just before a huge shower and a shelter under a tree, we headed down to the showground.  In this area, the attractions do come at an extra cost and a token must be bought from the tent.  The steam-powered carousel is gorgeous and Abigail and her friend Millie loved it and at £1.50 per ride wasn’t too bad.  The hoopla, coconut shy and roll the ball are 50p each so the girls had a couple of go and the guy gave Abigail a coconut for a ‘good try’ – bless!

Beamish Fairground

It was time to meet our group back at the bandstand for the parade.  We assembled and were ushered to the back of the shops to start the parade.  The girls were super cute holding hands and waving to the crowds lining up along the route.  The marching band led out in front and some of the banners and flags were amazing.

If I come back next year I’m getting Mr Hooper on a mission to make us a cool banner.

Empire Day at Beamish

The parade led up to the pit village and onto the colliery ground.  We were greeted and thanked for coming while the guy explained about the Empire and the history of the day.  We said our goodbye s to the girls and headed home via the Pockerley Manor House.

Beamish has special activities throughout the year visit their website to see What’s On.

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