Blaenavon Industrial Landscape
Sites, Centres and Museums
Blaenavon World Heritage Site, South Wales
UNESCO designated Blaenavon and the surrounding area as a World Heritage Site in 2000 because of the importance of South Wales as the "world's major producer of iron and coal in the 19th century, all the key elements still exist today - coal and ore mines, quarries, a primitive railway system, furnaces, workers' homes, and the social infrastructure of their community. The components of the Blaenavon industrial landscape together make up an outstanding and remarkably complete example of a 19th century industrial landscape." The following are a selection of sites and activities of interest for visitors to discover the area.
Blaenavon World Heritage Centre
The UK's first dedicated World Heritage Centre opened in March 2008 in Blaenavon. The £2.7 million visitors' centre tells the story of how Blaenavon helped to change the world during the Industrial Revolution and the international importance of World Heritage status. Staff at the centre offer educational packages and guided tours of the area to get visitors out and about exploring the landscape. The tourist information centre for the area is also housed here.
Big Pit National Coal Museum
Situated on the site of a real coal mine which ceased production in 1980. It is now one of Britain’s leading mining museums where visitors can go 300 feet underground with a real miner and see what life was like for the thousands of men who worked at the coal face. There’s an exciting multi-media tour of a modern coal mine with a virtual miner; new exhibitions in the Pithead Baths and in 2008 the colliery buildings opened to the public for the first time. Winner of the 'Sense of Place' award in the National Tourism Awards for Wales 2010.
Once one of the largest ironworks in the world and now is the best preserved blast furnace complex of its period and type. Through exhibitions and re-constructions visitors can trace the process of iron production and learn about the history and significance of the ironworks. Visitors can also see how people worked and lived in the nearby workman’s cottages of Stack Square which were built between 1789 and 1792 for the workers and their families.
The Blaenafon Cheddar Company
Produces eight very distinctive hand-made cheddars and four varieties of goat's cheese at their shop in Broad Street, Blaenavon. Their Pwll Mawr cheddar is actually matured at the bottom of the mine shaft at Big Pit. The cheeses are flavoured with Penderyn Welsh whisky, Welsh white wine, Felin Foel Double Dragon ale and other local ingredients. Visitors can call into the shop to taste or buy the cheeses and see how they are made.
Offer a range of guided walks in and around the World Heritage Site of Blaenafon, South Wales. The walks range from easy rambles around the town to a 2 day pre-booked expedition. They also do mountain bike hire with cycles to suit the able bodied and disabled. There is an optional pick up service available at 3 points along one of their suggested routes. Minimum group size: 6 people.