Beamish celebrates first attraction in £18m project

Beamish, The Living Museum of the North, has opened the first exhibit in its £18 million Remaking Beamish project.

Joe the Quilter’s cottage is a recreation of the home of renowned Georgian quilter Joseph Hedley, who was murdered in 1826, in a crime that shocked the nation.

The cottage features stones from Joe’s original home, after the remains of the building were uncovered during an archaeological dig by Beamish staff and community members.

The exhibit, which tells the story of quilting and the growth of cottage industries in the early 1800s, has been recreated by museum staff.

The Remaking Beamish project is the biggest development in the County Durham museum’s 48-year history and also includes a 1950s Town, 1950s Farm and Georgian coaching inn, where visitors can stay overnight.

Thanks to the money raised by National Lottery players, the Remaking Beamish project has been awarded £10.9 million by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Richard Evans, Beamish’s director, said: “This is a really exciting moment for us all at Beamish. After years of planning we have finally opened the first of many new exhibits that are part of Remaking Beamish.

“This beautifully-crafted, heather-thatched cottage gives us a rare chance to understand what everyday life was like in the north east during the early part of the 19th century.

“The quality of this latest addition to Beamish is outstanding – the result of many years of research, painstaking craftsmanship and the involvement of local community groups and schools. It is a real credit to the dedication and talent of our staff and volunteers, who have created this fascinating new experience for our visitors.”

Joe’s cottage has been built with traditional techniques and skills, using local materials.

Groups can explore Joe the Quilter’s cottage, and also take a tram ride to experience the sights and sounds of 1820s Pockerley, The 1900s Town, The 1900s Pit Village and The 1940s Farm.

Beamish welcomed a record-breaking 764,675 visitors in 2017-18 and has seen visitor numbers more than double over the past eight years. The museum has about 420 staff and more than 550 volunteers.