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

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. You can watch an underground tour of Mahogany Drift Mine here!

All visitors to the drift mine must be able to do the following:

  • Securely wear a safety helmet at all times, while underground.
  • Wear suitably sturdy footwear (No flip-flops or loose fitting, thong-style, sandals).
  • Parents/carers must supervise young children at all times.
  • Young children must be able to walk (unaided) during the tour and must not be carried, due to the limited head height.

All visitors to the drift mine are reminded of the following:

  • The minimum head height in the Mine drops to 4 Feet 6 inches (140cm). Anyone above this height must be able to stoop during the tour.
  • The surface, underfoot, is made up of a gravel and is uneven. There is also standing water on the ground.
  • Visitors are free to leave the tour, at any point, and return to the surface.
  • The Mine is not accessible to wheelchair users, due to the limited head height and uneven floor surfaces.

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 – viewing only

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.