Beamish Museum on course for record annual attendance figure

The Advertiser Series: Beamish Museum has welcomed more than 500,000 visitors this year Beamish Museum has welcomed more than 500,000 visitors this year

THE region’s open air heritage museum is on course to smash its attendance record, with more than 500,000 visitors touring the site so far this year.

Beamish Museum director Richard Evans expects the annual figure to reach 550,000 visitors by the end of January, which is also the end of its financial year.

Unlike its formative decades, the 42-year-old attraction, between Chester-le-Street and Stanley, County Durham, now opens five days a week during the winter months.

It has helped to swell visitor numbers, particularly over the busy Christmas and New Year period.

Mr Evans said Beamish “rarely looks better” than on chilly winter days.

“Now we’re open five days a week throughout the winter season, what was once a private treat for us can now be enjoyed by all, and I’m pleased to say we’ve been as busy as ever with all our Christmas activities.

“In fact, 2013 has been a record year. We’re on track for 550,000 people, our best ever result by some margin.

“Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves to believe how far we’ve come in recent years. That is a lot of people.”

The half-a-million ‘landmark’ was passed several weeks ago, thanks to a packed programme of festivals and activities, plus a series of sell-out evening events.

“This is a really significant milestone for us," said the delighted director.

“It’s great news not just for the people who love and work for the museum, it’s also a real boost for employment and economic growth in our region.”

Mr Evans said more than 60-per cent of Beamish’s visitors are holidaymakers from outside the region.

“They go on to visit other cultural and heritage attractions right across our region, and stay overnight in our hotels, guest houses, bed and breakfasts and campsites.”

Mr Evans said this year’s record figures follow a five-year period during which visitor numbers have increased by more than two-thirds.

“The economic impact of this growth should not be underestimated.

“Of course, the weather this year has been much better, but this doesn’t explain the upward trend seen over the past five years.”

He said investment of more than £4m in new attractions has played its part in the success story, plus the introduction of an unlimited ticket, in 2009, enabling people to enjoy the expanding site over 12 months for the price of a day ticket, ensuring more local people return to the museum.

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