The Beamish Factor

One of the questions we get asked, with some frequency, is “Can the collection not move to Beamish?” I thought I’d take this opportunity to answer this particular question.

Many people will remember that Frank Atkinson, director of the museum when it first opened, said “you offer it to us, we will collect it”, and assume that this means that Beamish would be open to keeping the collection open. Unfortunately, this is not actually the case.

The History Game

It’s important to understand that the remit of Beamish is to cover life in the North East with particular relevance being placed on the years 1825 and 1913. These years have been chosen to offer a snapshot of life that covers a range of years of interest to Beamish. The DLI regiment, on its own, ran from 1881 to 1968 (the history of the Durham’s goes back much further – the 68th Durham Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry) goes back to about 1780), putting it outside the years that are of particular relevance for the museum.

As the museum chooses to represent snapshots of these particular years, having a collection that includes conflicts outside these eras would go against the way the museum chooses to display items.

Where to display

Assuming that Beamish did choose to house the display, where would they display it? Let’s make no bones about it, the DLI collection is vast; a proud testament to the bravery and discipline of a regiment that was always deployed “in the thick of it”, never afraid to take a stand. As anyone who has been to Beamish will attest, there’s not much dedicated museum space, rather the museum is the representation of village life, the colliery, etc. So, the first thing that would have to be done is have a new museum put in place – this would have to be a large building and would be a huge expense for Beamish to cope with.

Obviously, our big driver is keeping the collection together and available for all to view,so Beamish couldn’t just choose to show a subset of the items.

4 thoughts on “The Beamish Factor

  1. It seemed very strange that the most successful museum in the area was not interested in helping it’s county regement. Now l realise why!

  2. Thank you for posting this piece on your web site. It did seem the logical thing to do to get Beamish involved, however I am now more informed as to how and why Beamish works….. shame though. Can the DLI and Rifles Associations not help, note the Rifle Museums in Winchester.

  3. I am sorry to disagree with you but Beamish is the perfect place for the DLI .
    At the moment the DLI collection is away from the public even if part of it was out at Beamish that would be a result. I think the real reason is that the friends of the DLI would lose any control over the DLI collection very selfish. Beamish has just opened a 1950’s street has a Pub and a Fish and Chip shop so it is a lot of twaddle.

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