It has been a hectic few weeks at the popular Beamish Museum as it’s been both full steam ahead for one of the region’s largest steam events of the year and, added to that, visitors have also experienced the thrills of a Georgian Fair.
The Great North Steam Fair, which recently rolled into the grounds of the museum, was a spectacular four day event that featured an amazing array of steam, classic and other vehicles in all shapes and sizes that filled the museum’s roads and display areas and offered something for everyone.
The majority of the museum’s working steam engines were in action and on view for visitors as were a host of visiting vehicles as well.
The real stars of the steam vehicles event were four special locomotives that were present for both rides and display. Firstly, there was Salmon- a 0-6-OST Locomotive that provided rides at Rowley Station and 0-4-OST Vulcan that operated on the colliery railway.
Supporting these two attractions were the narrow-gauge engines Isabel and Peter Pan. And there were also trams 167 and 280 that joined the Beamish Home Fleet. In addition there was a very informative demonstration of road making in the colliery yard.
However, the event wasn’t just an excuse to show off these spectacular creations as there were two additional attractions that were real crowd pleasers at Beamish Museum.
Firstly there was the miniature railway and a chance to meet the model makers across the whole four days and, over the Saturday and Sunday, there was a spectacular Meccano Exhibition and the nearby Resource Centre.
All of the operators and costumed characters then made a change of outfits when, over the Bank Holiday weekend at the end of Beamish May, the Pockerley Waggonway came alive with the buzz of a sensational Georgian Fair.
On each of the four days, the “Squire of Pockerley, appeared at 11.00 to declare the fair open. And, as you would expect with any fair, there were performers that ranged from a fire-eater, who also slept on a bed of nails, a Punch and Judy Show and even a flea circus that was “itching” to entertain.
The quack doctor was out and about, earning a penny or two with his home-made remedies, trinket sellers and strolling musicians. There were birds of prey to admire and country craftspeople who demonstrated their skills in clog making, basket weaving and corn dolly making.
Plants, bread, vegetables and wine were on sale from traditional market stalls and pedlars with gingerbread and lavender favours for loved ones mingled with the crowds. A host of treats for everyone.
As with the Steam Fair, where they appeared in WW1 outfits, the Durham Pals appeared as Wellington’s Redcoats, in period military uniforms, and made camp at Pockerley Old Hall.