A five-day event at Beamish Museum is to celebrate the mining history of the north east. Old King Coal will see miners’ banners, pit ponies and brass bands bringing back memories of the time when our region was a major centre of the coal industry. 

Old King Coal, which marks the beginning of Beamish Museum’s Great North Festival of Transport, will get underway on Wednesday 29th March and run until Sunday 2nd April. 

On Saturday and Sunday at 1.30 pm there will be a miners’ banner procession – which visitors are welcome to join – from The Town to The Pit Village. More banners will be on display around the museum, alongside information about local history.

Visitors can also enjoy local folk music and learn how coal from the north east contributed to the war effort. 

Beamish Museum to Celebrate North East Mining Heritage
Old King Coal will feature a range of miners’ banners

Beamish Museum’s head of industry, Jonathon Kindleysides, said, “The mining industry is a huge part of the region’s past, so it’s very important that we remember the industry, the miners and their families with our Old King Coal event.”

Saturday will see the unveiling of a commemorative plaque to the 20 miners who died in the 1896 Brancepeth Colliery Disaster. 

On all five days of the event, visitors will be able to see displays from the Wardley Banner Exhibition, Hylton Banner Group, Silksworth Mining History Society, and Felling Heritage Group.

On the Saturday and Sunday, there will also be displays from the Tommy Armstrong Society, which is dedicated to the life and work of the ‘pitman poet’ and songwriter Tommy Armstrong (1848-1902). 

Beamish Museum has been working with local schools to help youngsters become more aware of their region’s mining heritage. As part of Old King Coal, pupils will be taking part in junior miners’ parades on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

The Great North Transport Festival will also include the Great North Steam Fair. Boasting around 20 steam vehicles, up to 100 motor vehicles and steam train rides, the Great North Steam Fair will run from April 6th to 9th.

Beamish Museum to Celebrate North East Mining Heritage
The Great North Steam Fair will feature around 20 steam vehicles

The festival will also feature Horses at Work (21st to 23rd April), an extravaganza of ponies, horses and horse-drawn vehicles.

All the Great North Transport Festival events are included in the price of the museum’s admission ticket or are free to Unlimited Pass Holders.


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