Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage Site, Wales

The hills and valleys of South Wales are both beautiful and bleak. Centuries of industry, and mining in particular, have left abundant scars.

IMG_6101IMG_6022The 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.

IMG_6096The 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.

The Blaenavon Ironworks - with the cast house (left), the blast furnaces (centre rear) and Water Balance Tower (right)

The Blaenavon Ironworks – with the cast house (left), the blast furnaces (centre rear) and Water Balance Tower (right)

The Blaenavon Ironworks - Water Balance Tower

The Blaenavon Ironworks – Water Balance Tower

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.

Big Pit: National Coal Museum

Big Pit: National Coal Museum – silhouetted against the winter sun

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Big Pit: National Coal Museum – workshops

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Big Pit: National Coal Museum - Main winding gear

Big Pit: National Coal Museum – Main winding gear

Big Pit: National Coal Museum - part of one of the winding wheels

Big Pit: National Coal Museum – part of one of the winding wheels

Big Pit: National Coal Museum - the blacksmith forges (sorry it's a little blurry)

Big Pit: National Coal Museum – the blacksmith forges (sorry it’s a little blurry)

Big Pit: National Coal Museum - in 2007,  the Pithead Baths (on the hill behind) were voted Wales’ Best National Treasure in a BBC TV programme

Big Pit: National Coal Museum – in 2007, the Pithead Baths (on the hill behind) were voted Wales’ Best National Treasure in a BBC TV programme

Big Pit: National Coal Museum - view of the complex from the Pithead Baths

Big Pit: National Coal Museum – view of the complex from the Pithead Baths

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.

Big Pit: National Coal Museum - going underground (image borrowed from Big Pit website)

Big Pit: National Coal Museum – going underground (image borrowed from Big Pit website)

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.

Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway - Big Pit Halt

Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway – Big Pit Halt

The sun may have set on iron and coal mining industries in South Wales, but their heritage lives on in the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape.

IMG_6118This post was inspired by Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge, which this week is Industrial.

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?

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About Jaspa

Star of my own award-winning adventure novels, Jaspa's Journey. Geocaching addict & F1 fan. Adventure Journeyer & blogger extraordinaire. Check out my website: www.jaspasjourney.com And don’t forget to download the books and see what the buzz is all about!
This entry was posted in Environment, History, Jaspa's Journey, Photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Blaenavon Industrial Landscape World Heritage Site, Wales

  1. Cee Neuner says:

    You have some marvelous photos as always. Thanks for playing.

  2. shawn says:

    Great photos and I Loved the history behind the area! I plan to get there in 2017 for a visit!

  3. jpeggytaylor says:

    I enjoyed your post and images. We live in an old mining village in northern England. Our old coal mines and iron and steel furnaces have all gone now but there are still plenty of clues to the area’s industrial past in our landscape 🙂

  4. Pingback: Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge-Industrial | WoollyMuses

  5. seraireland says:

    I enjoyed your photos. Great captures 🙂

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