The hills and valleys of South Wales are both beautiful and bleak. Centuries of industry, and mining in particular, have left abundant scars.
The Blaenavon Industrial Landscape was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the year 2000. Covering an area of roughly 33 square kilometres (almost 13 square miles) centred on the town of Blaenavon, it includes relics from the mining and iron industries that once dominated this part of the UK, including houses built for the workers and miners.
The Blaenavon Ironworks began production in 1789, and were one of the world’s most important suppliers of iron throughout the early 19th Century. The ironworks operated for over a hundred years, before being closed in 1900. Today they represent one of the best-preserved blast furnace sites of their age.
Big Pit: National Coal Museum is the most popular of the attractions within the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape. The colliery itself was begun around 1860 and produced coal until 1980. Today’s surface buildings are dominated by pit head winding gear, which lowered miners down the main shaft to the coal face.
The highlight of a visit to Big Pit is undoubtedly following in the miners’ footsteps. Guests are today invited to descend 300 feet into the mine, wearing some of the equipment the miners once wore, including helmet-mounted lamps.
Admission to both Blaenavon Ironworks (managed by CADW Welsh Historic Monuments) and Big Pit: National Coal Museum (managed by the National Museum of Wales) is free, which I for one think is marvellous!
Another draw of the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape is the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway. This two-mile-long heritage railway includes stops at Big Pit and on the outskirts of Blaenavon itself.
The sun may have set on iron and coal mining industries in South Wales, but their heritage lives on in the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape.
Whether you’re marvelling at the rugged beauty of South Wales or impressed by its industrial heritage (or hopefully, both), why not sign up and follow my continuing Journeys here at Jaspa’s Journal (on WordPress or Bloglovin’), or through my website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr?
And if that’s not enough for you, there are now three Jaspa’s Journey novels to enjoy as ebooks! Perfect for Kids 8 – 80!