Big Pit National Coal Museum
This Gulbenkian Prize winning colliery museum is the highlight of the Blaenavon World Heritage Site. On the world famous underground tour, you can take a trip down the 90m mine shaft to discover what conditions were like for Welsh miners between the 1860s and the 1970s.
Standing on the heather-clad moors at the heart of Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is Big Pit, a coal mine sunk by the Blaenavon Company in the 1860s to provide coal for the ironworks, for burning lime, for powering steam engines and for heating workers’ homes.
The mine operated until 1980 and the mine buildings at Big Pit, including engine houses, stable blocks, workshops and the pithead baths, are a time capsule showing the development of the mine from the 1860s to the 1970s. They have been conserved and transformed so that the life of the pit and the stories of the people that worked on the South Wales Coalfield are brought vividly to life for visitors.
The winding engine and cages are still operational. Visitors are taken down the deep mineshaft by a former collier, to learn first-hand what it was like for the men and boys who worked at the coalface.
On the surface you can visit the original colliery buildings including the Fan House, Blacksmith’s Forge, and Stables and winding Engine House. The Pithead Baths have also been restored showing where miners began and ended their shifts. You can visit the traditional mining exhibition in the Baths building and take a virtual tour through a modern mine.
Visiting the Big Pit National Coal Museum
The museum is open most days of the year and admission is free. Allow three to four hours for your visit. For the one-hour undergroud tour, wear warm clothing and sensible footwear.
How to get there
Blaenavon is south east of Brynmawr and north of Pontypool. The museum is signposted in Blaenavon. Bus route 30 from Cwmbran.
Nearest town or village
OS grid reference
Explorer Map OL 13, Landranger Map 161 – SO237087.
Daily 9.30am-5pm. Last admission 4pm. Underground tours 10am-3.30pm (in December and January, call for availability).
Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon, Torfaen NP4 9XP, tel 029 2057 3650, www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/bigpit
Coffee shop, canteen, gift shop
Ample car parking. Charges apply.
In the museum, with disabled access and baby changing facilities. None underground.
The exhibition is based on three levels, all of which have long and steep access ramps. The underground tour is open to wheelchair users but please contact the Museum before your visit.