Venture below the surface of the earth to tour an old coal mine and to learn about the history of mining in Wales.
Travel deep underground to explore the workings of a former mine at the Big Pit National Coal Museum. See coal faces and engine houses and learn about the lives and working conditions of miners.
For more than 100 years this site was a working coal mine, where the rock was excavated and then transported all over the world. It closed in 1980 and opened as a museum 3 years later.
Don your helmet and headlamp and ride 300 feet (90 meters) down the elevator shaft to start your underground tour. The 50-minute subterranean walk is led by a former miner. Listen to his experiences as you are taken to engine houses, stables and places where coal was dug out.
When you are back on the surface, visit the site’s historical buildings. Go to the Winding Engine house, which contains the machinery that raised and lowered cages containing miners, coal and materials. Tour the Blacksmiths' Yard, around which are buildings that date back to the 1870s. See the Fan House, from where the ventilation system carried oxygen into the mine and removed dust and unwanted gases.
Stop by the restored pithead baths, an area where the miners used to prepare for their shifts and wash afterwards. This building houses four exhibitions covering the history of mining in Wales. View exhibits on mining communities, mining disasters and children in the mines. Browse memorabilia such as mining equipment, helmets and clothes.
Find the Big Pit Mining Galleries, set in the hillside above the colliery. Watch multimedia presentations about the evolution of mining in Wales and study reconstructed coalfaces of the 1950s and 1970s.
The Big Pit National Coal Museum is a UNESCO World Heritage site in Blaenafon, about 7 miles (11.3 kilometers) from Pontypool. Buses run from Blaenafon and there is paid car parking on site. The museum is open daily and admission is free. Underground tours run throughout the year, except during January when they are held on weekends only. Children must be at least 3.3 feet (1 meter) tall to go underground.