Visiting Blaenavon


Blaenavon Industrial Landscape inscribed by UNESCO onto the World Heritage List as a site of outstanding universal value.  Attractions include: Blaenavon Ironworks, where you can see the  Water balance Tower, Furnaces, Casting houses and ironworkers's cottages...  filmed in the BBC Wales documentary Coalhouse.  The Workmen's Hall built and paid for in 1894 by the local mining workforce, and now houses a concert hall and small cinema.  St Peter's Church, built by Ironmasters Thomas Hill and Samuel Hopkins in 1804, with unusual cast iron font and iron pillars.  St Peter's School, established for the children of the workers, and now used as Blaenavon World Heritage Site Visitors' Centre.  A new visitor attraction are the five iron-cast pit ponies, weighing two tonnes each, standing four feet tall and six feet long from nose to tail.  The pit ponies are a wonderful symbol of Blaenavon's industrial past, designed by Sally Matthews, whose work can be found all over the UK and in Europe.   

Big Pit ( shown above ) was first worked in 1860 and called Big Pit because it was the first shaft in Wales large enough to allow two tramsways. Much of the labour used at this time came from women and children as young as seven years old.  By 1908 the mine provided employment for 1,122 people, but this gradually decreased, until by 1970 the workface was just 494 and closed on February 2 1980.  It reopened as a museum in 1983 and has become one of the UK's leading mining museums. The tour descends 300 feet underground led by a real miner where you can see what life was like for the thousand of men who worked at the coal face.  If you prefer to stay on the surface, there are a number of informative and interesting exhibition areas available.  For further information visit    

The UK's first World Heritage Centre opened in Blaenavon to tell the story behind this UNESCO World Heritage-listed site.  Housed in a former school, in a building dating back to 1816, the £2.7 million centre explains the role the former iron-making town played during the industrial revolution.   For further information telephone +44 (0) 1495 792 615.

Alexander Cordell, author of 'The Rape of the Fair Country, set in and around Blaenavon in the 1820s and 1830s.  A powerful story of a family coming to find dangerous work in the mines and ironworks.  In 1959 it became a bestseller and was translated into seventeen languages.