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A Personal Welcome from Our Chair John Grundy.

I would just like to make a personal welcome to this Friends of Beamish website. I've been involved with the Friends for several years now and I want to say what a privilege it is to be the Chair of such a terrific organisation and therefore closely involved with such an excellent museum.

First of all, the museum.

My own main interests, and the things I write about and broadcast about, are historic architecture and social history; in particular I am interested in the real architecture and townscapes round about us - not just the great masterpieces but the ordinary and commonplace as well, from castles to cowsheds as I put it sometimes.

Beamish is gloriously stocked with perfect examples of the ordinary from miners cottages to corner shops and pubs, from farm buildings to 19th century train sheds, so it has always seemed to me that Beamish was designed especially for me.

Do I have a favourite bit? Well, the smell of coal and hot iron in the Great Shed takes me back with painful joy to the rather pathetic youth I spent as an avid train-spotter around the marshalling yards of Carlisle in the still steamy railway days of the 1950s - but no, I don't really have a favourite. It is the astonishing range of experiences that Beamish offers which continues to draw me back to it.

And Secondly, the Friends.

The Friends, as these pages reveal, is an intensely worthy organisation. It helps to advertise the museum, it raises money for it, it helps to buy desirable new items for the collection, its members provide VAST numbers of volunteer hours to show people around, and work, work, work to help restore items in the collection.

There are so many skills among the Friends that it scares me. Added to all of that, membership of the Friends gives access to Newsletters, programmes of talks, special and privileged access to aspects of the museum that the general public never see.

There are assorted special events throughout the year and a yearly trip to visit sister museums around the country. Why would you not want to join and organisation that offers all of that AND gives you reduced price admission to one of the finest museums in the world? Membership is simply too good to miss.

John Grundy.



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