Tyne & Wear

Beamish Museum: Second record year for visitors

Beamish bandstand Image copyright Anthony Sparks
Image caption The open air museum opened in 1971 and employs more than 350 people

Beamish Museum in County Durham has reported a second record year for visitor numbers.

The open air museum, near Durham City, attracted 654,357 visitors in 2014 - an 11% increase on the previous 12 months.

Director Richard Evans said more than half of visitors to the site were from outside the region.

Ivor Stolliday, chairman of Visit County Durham, said the increase was a "tremendous achievement in a year of general economic uncertainty."

The museum, which features an Edwardian town, a colliery village and a farm, opened in 1971 and employs more than 350 people.

'Overnight stays'

Mr Evans said: "We're over the moon about our results for 2014 and are very proud to say that it has been the best year Beamish has ever had.

"Thanks to the income we earn ourselves, we are now able to employ more than 350 people in a diverse range of jobs from engineers to cooks."

Sarah Stewart, chief executive of the NewcastleGateshead Initiative, added: "More than half of those visiting Beamish travel from other parts of the UK and from overseas.

"As a result, the increase in visitor numbers will have contributed to the growth in overnight stays seen across the region, providing a very welcome boost to the local economy."

The museum recently announced a £16m expansion plan for which it has received initial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The museum's founder Frank Atkinson died in December, aged 90.

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