Management, staff and volunteers at Beamish Museum are celebrating this week following the announcement that 2013 was the North East attraction’s most successful year ever. Over the past twelve months an incredible 589,474 visitors came to sample the delights of this open air museum, shattering the previous annual record attendance figure of 520,000 people!
It was especially apt that this milestone was reached in the year that Beamish celebrated the 40th anniversary of its operating tramway. This event was commemorated as part of the Great North Festival of Transport in April, which saw two visiting tramcars – Lisbon 730 from Birkenhead and Glasgow 1068 from Crich – join the resident tram fleet for an unforgettable procession. Winter visitor numbers also gained a welcome boost thanks to the visit of Blackpool Railcoach 280, which arrived in December and entered service in January 2014. Although it would be wrong to place sole credit on the tram activities for the upturn in visitor numbers, events such as this have certainly cemented Beamish’s reputation as an essential destination for anyone with an interest in historic trams and other transport. Key developments during the past year, such as the opening of the reconstructed Hetton Silver Band Hall and the bakery in the Town area have also undoubtedly contributed towards making 2013 such a fantastic year, and everyone involved in the success of Beamish deserves to be congratulated on these wonderful achievements.
Naturally, the museum will not be standing still and the additional revenue will be invested back into the site to hopefully ensure that these numbers can continue to grow. Developments in the next few years should include the recreation of a Medieval Church and the addition of a chemist and photography studio to the 1913 Town. Plans for a much-hyped 1950s area are also being developed, and this should include the provision of operating trolleybuses, whilst further developments involving the tram fleet should also continue. The major overhaul of Sheffield 264 will hopefully allow this tram to re-enter service in 2015, and there is no shortage of potential for future restoration projects and tram loans. The future has never looked brighter for Beamish, and it is great to see the trams playing such a significant role in the museum’s development.