Big Pit (Blaenafon)
© All images courtesy of Big Pit and National Museum Wales
The evocatively named ‘
Big Pit’ museum is designed to take visitors back in time and let them experience the sounds, sights and smells of a working coal mine during the industrial revolution. Big Pit is dedicated to operational preservation of Wales’ coal mining heritage.
Operational for nearly 200 years to 1980, Big Pit was the most important of all the collieries located in Blaenavon and the South Wales Coalfield.
With funding from the Welsh Tourist Board and the European Regional Development Fund, the museum first opened to the public in 1983 and has been steadily improved ever since.
The highlight of any visit will be the hour-long underground tour. Led by ex-miners, you will descend 300 feet (90 metres) underground and see what life was like for the thousands of men and pit-ponies who lived and worked underground.
When back on the surface, visitors can explore the other colliery buildings including the winding engine-house, the blacksmiths’ workshop and the pithead baths where the miners washed after their shift.
At one point the mine employed 1,300 miners
Children as young as ten once working in the mine by candlelight
In 1913 there were 70,000 pit ponies working underground in Britain
After coal mining at Big Pit became unprofitable, it was sold for just £1 in 1980
Over 150,000 people visit the mine every year
In 2005, Big Pit won the UK’s prestigious ‘Museum of the Year’ award
Still classed as a working mine, Big Pit has to meet all current regulations supplied by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Mines. All visitors who opt for the underground tour must wear a safety helpmet and wear helmet lamp and battery pack (weighing 5Kg) on the belt that is provided. Everyone must also carry a ‘rebreather’ on the same belt to filter our foul air in the case of an emergency. This will provide approximately one hour of air, allowing enough time to escape the mine in an emergency. Pricing
The Big Pit National Coal Museum is a free attraction. Consequently, there are no admission charges! Although the entrance price is free, there is a £3 charge for car parking. All donations to the museum are very welcome.
Stay In Britain Tips
It can get very cold underground so please ensure you bring extra layers of clothing to keep you warm. Sturdy shoes are also needed as the ground is rough underfoot when you are below the surface.
Please be aware that children need to be 1 metre tall to go on the underground tour. They must also be able to carry their own safety equipment which weighs about 5 kilos. The underground tour is also accessible to wheelchair users but should be arranged in advance.