1900s Colliery

No recreation of the history of North East England would be complete without a colliery and the people who worked there

Beamish Unlimited

The safety of our visitors, staff and volunteers is our number one priority and we’ve introduced additional COVID-19 Secure health and hygiene measures across the museum.

You’ll be able to go into most of our museum exhibits and we’ve introduced one-way systems to help the visitor flow and to ensure your safety, please follow the signs. We will be opening up other areas as and when we are able to, with everyone’s safety as our top priority. Wherever possible, we’ll open up doors of exhibits you can’t yet go into, so you can still look inside. For more information about visiting the museum please click here.

Generations of families worked down the North East’s pits – it was the industry on which the region’s prosperity was built. In 1913, the year of peak production, 165,246 men and boys worked in Durham’s 304 mines. Discover the story of North East mining at the 1900s Colliery.

The site on which the museum stands was once at the heart of the Durham coalfield.

The early 1900s were a prosperous period for North East miners, who were relatively well paid. Their wages were double those of agricultural workers, the next biggest industry.

Mahogany Drift Mine 

Mahogany Drift Mine was opened on this site in about 1855 and later closed before coming back into use in 1921 to take coal from Beamish Park Drift to Beamish Chophill Colliery.

Miners faced dark, wet and often cramped working conditions. Take a trip down our drift mine and experience the reality of life underground for yourself. Entry to the mine is by guided tour only, running regularly throughout the day. Last tour is 30 minutes before museum closing time.

Don’t forget to call in to the cottages in The 1900s Pit Village to see how the miners lived.

Lamp Cabin

Discover the history of miners’ safety lamps in this recreation of a typical colliery lamp cabin.

Winding Engine House

The tall stone engine house came to Beamish from Chophill Colliery.

The winding engine in our 1900s Colliery is the sole survivor of a type once common in the Northern Coalfield, making it one of the most important objects at the museum.


Visit the wooden heapstead building, next to the winding engine house, where men, ponies and tubs were lowered into the mine and coal was brought up to be weighed and screened.

Colliery Railway

Get an insight into the railway network used by colliery owners. The Colliery Railway, which has standard and narrow gauge lines, hosts occasional demonstration shunting operations by Coffee Pot No.1, Lewin and Edward Sholto. The Engine Shed houses the Museum’s colliery locomotives.