The Beacon Museum

The Beacon Museum
West Strand
CA28 7LY




01946 592302


01946 598150

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beacon museum whitehaven harbour
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The Beacon Museum, situated on Whitehaven’s beautiful Georgian harbourside, tells the story of the rich history of this fascinating corner of the Western Lake District.

There is a fantastic interactive exhibition which tells the story of the nuclear industry in West Cumbria, past, present and future.

Beginning at the top of the museum, visitors can expect to enjoy the best view in town in our viewing gallery, looking out across the Solway. That floor also features an interactive POP Gallery exploring leisure and culture in 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s.
Downstairs the story of West Cumbria begins with the hands-on history of the area from Norse Settlers to twentieth century industries.

Our second floor exhibition tells the story of how West Cumbria supported the war effort and, afterwards, how new technology was pioneered right here to give the UK a nuclear deterrent. The exciting, interactive new exhibition charts, warts and all, how that early weapons programme grew into a nuclear industry which has supported Cumbria’s economy for the past 60 years, and looks at what the future might be for energy.

Whatever your age, The Beacon Museum is a great place to learn and have fun. After your visit, be sure to take a look in our gift shop before relaxing in The Wellington Bistro for lunch or a cuppa.

Also don't miss the gift shop, which stocks a whole range of locally sourced gifts.

We also have the family-run Wellington Bistro and Café on our ground floor.

With rotating exhibitions in our Harbour Gallery and events scheduled throughout the year and school holidays, it’s the perfect time to visit The Beacon.

Venue Type:


Opening hours

Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 4.30pm. Last admission 3.45pm. Closed Mondays except for school and bank holiday Mondays.
Closed 24th to 26th December inclusive.

Admission charges

Adult £5.50, Concession £4, Child £2 (under 5s free), Family (2 adults and up to 3 children) £10.


  • Museums Association

Collection details

Archaeology, Archives, Costume and Textiles, Decorative and Applied Art, Fine Art, Land Transport, Maritime, Natural Sciences, Social History, Weapons and War

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.
cumbrian alchemy

Cumbrian Alchemy

  • 21 March — 4 May 2015 *on now

“Cumbrian Alchemy” is the latest exhibition to go on display in The Beacon Museum’s Harbour Gallery. This contemporary exhibition, which includes drawings, photographs and artefacts, takes a unique view of the county with its ancient landscapes and contrasting iconic energy sites.

Focussing on the Energy Coast, “Cumbrian Alchemy” explores the connection between the county’s industrial heritage and the archaeology, monuments and folklore of the area. As well as looking at older industries, such as mining, the exhibition also looks at the modern nuclear industry. More of this can be explored on the second floor of the museum which is now home to “The Sellafield Story” – a new exhibition opened at The Beacon Museum by Professor Brian Cox in May 2014.

The exhibition has been produced by the University of Cumbria and supported by Arts Council England. It brings together the work of Robert Williams, Professor of Fine Art at the University of Cumbria and Bryan McGovern Wilson, an artist from the USA.

As we all know the landscape of Cumbria is steeped in history; some of it natural while other aspects are manmade. Millions flock to the county to explore this beautiful landscape. However, the calmness of the fells and the stillness of the lakes have fascinating stories to tell; from legends of wild boars roaming Kirkby Stephen to Boggles drifting through the streets of Whitehaven.

Using a range of contemporary artwork, visitors to the exhibition will be able to explore these fascinating subjects and their origins and look at how, before the birth of modern science, our ancestors used their knowledge of the landscape in the ancient craft of alchemy.

Inspired by the exhibition, the museum’s learning team have also planned some exciting activities for families during the Easter holidays with “Magical Mythical Jewellery” on 2nd April followed by “Magical Mythical Creatures” on 9th April. There is no need to book, simply drop in anytime between 10am to 4pm. Suitable for ages 3 to 12 years, our holiday craft sessions are always popular and cost just £1.50 per person.

“Cumbrian Alchemy” is showing in The Beacon Museum’s Harbour Gallery from 21st March until 4th May. Entry to the Gallery is FREE.