Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Britain's Main Street USA: An Analytical Tour of Beamish Open Air Museum Part 2

The Pit Village

The Pit Village recreates a company owned village as it would appear in the early 1900s. It contains pit cottages, a school, a church and the mine. Further on is the impressive colliery.

The school is a genuine Victorian school, painstakingly dismantled and rebuilt from its original location a few miles away. It even has 'Boys' and 'Girls' entrances.

Guests are able to try their hand at writing on slate, or with pens requiring the nib to be dipped in an inkwell. The schoolmaster employee walked the desks replacing the blotting paper after it was used - keeping the place tidy and critiquing guests' handwriting as he did it.

Victorian children were taught the 'three Rs' (Reading, wRiting and 'Rithmethic) through primarily repetition. Education of the time was intended to create law-abiding citizens who knew their place and showed respect for their 'betters'.

Outside, guests are able to try out traditional schoolyard games of the time, including hopscotch, singing games, skipping games and boolers - the metal rings and sticks.

Across the street are some of the miner's cottages, with allotment gardens.

Their are hints at the popular pigeon and whippet racing pasttimes enjoyed by the miners.

Inside, demonstrations were given about quiltmaking; both patchwork quilts and Durham quilts.

But it is perhaps the mine that is the star of the village. Guests are able to don helmets and follow a tour 100ft inside the formally miles-long genuine coal mine.

As well as explanations about the development of miners lamps, guests are told about the process of mining coal by hand, and the disasters that could occur in the harsh working conditions.

The ceiling gets as low as 4ft at points.

The dominant structure at the village is the colliery; a tremendous jewel of Victorian engineering used to mine coal from deep beneath the earth's surface.

This would be Disneyland Great Britain's Big Thunder Mountain; a mine cart ride amongst whirring steam powered machinery, dynamite explosions, mountainous coal piles and roaring furnaces.

The photo above demonstrates the genuine history of the colliery: the handle used to be thick its entire length, now it is worn down from more than a century of constant use.

In the next part, I will continue the photo tour to Pockerly and the Home Farm.

Britain's Main Street USA: An Analytical Tour of Beamish Open Air Museum
Jump to: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

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