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New light shines forth at Beamish

Beamish Open Air Museum in County Durham will open its latest exhibit to visitors on 28 March following an exclusive VIP preview on 26th March when it unveils a new £1m colliery lamp cabin, which complements the existing recreated 1913 Colliery Village, a centrepiece of the museum.



The museum commissioned heritage architects Purcell Miller Tritton to design a new replica lamp building for the colliery in 2006. The new building is divided into three areas: traditional spaces where costumed staff will re-enact the miners’ story, the exhibition area and the staff area and public toilets.
The building was constructed using traditional methods, which meant the team from contractor Lumsden and Carroll was denied the use of cranes on the site to lift the timber trusses. Vital supports had to be designed with that in mind and the king post truss at the centre of the building’s frame had to be assembled piece by piece, like a jigsaw, on site.
On view in the completed exhibition area are some of the museum's important collection of miners’ lamps alongside displays of rescue equipment and mining tools dating from the mid 18th century up to the late 20th century. The lamp room is furnished just as it would have been in 1913 and visitors will be able to see how the lamps were cleaned, maintained and lit.
Prior to the opening a VIP day will take place on 26 March, while on 28 March miners from across the region are invited to officially open the new building. There will also be a procession to the colliery involving a band, banners, local schools and community groups.
Amanda Needham, project leader for Purcell Miller Tritton, said: “We are delighted to have been involved in this unique project for Beamish. The colliery was noticeably incomplete without a lamp cabin for visitors to experience, and now guests will be able to move through the cabin before entering the drift mine. This impressive period building will greatly enhance people’s understanding of this chapter in the region’s industrial heritage.”