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.

West Cumbria in World War One - The Last Post

  • 11 January — 15 March 2015 *on now

This exhibition brings to life the wartime experiences of local people whose extraordinary stories and intensely personal memories reveal the impact of the war. These enthralling stories will be told through personal letters, diaries and artefacts showing the love, excitement, fear, bravery, humour, grief, loss and longing that touched the lives of thousands throughout the area.

Alan Gillon, The Beacon Museum’s Learning Officer said, “This exhibition is about our community, our past and it is indeed a time to reflect and a time to honour our lost heroes.”

Throughout the exhibition there will be the opportunity for visitors to make and take home with them their very own Trench periscope, write a postcard from the trenches or to try on a replica stretcher bearers tunic and cap. Visitors will also have the opportunity to leave their own personal family stories on special postcards. These stories will be researched and added to the collection for future generations.

A special event will be taking place as part of the exhibition on 31st January, with well-known local chef, John Crouch. John will be offering a day of “Food from the Trenches”, demonstrating typical recipes from the First World War period. Free crafts will also be offered on this day with no need to book.

For schools, there will be the chance for both Key Stages 1 and 2 to have their own demonstration workshops including demonstrations by John Crouch on either 29th January or 5th March. Places on these 1 hour workshops will be limited so schools are advised to contact The Beacon Museum’s learning team as soon as possible for further information and to book places.

Free assemblies giving a taster of the activity sessions for schools offered by the museum will also be available throughout the duration of the exhibition.

The exhibition will be on show in The Beacon Museum’s Harbour Gallery until 15th March. Entry is free.

Suitable for

  • Any age
  • Family friendly