Big Pit: National Coal Museum is the most popular attraction within the Blaenavon World Heritage Site. The museum is based around the former Big Pit Colliery, which was sunk in about 1860 and closed in 1980. The site reopened as a museum in 1983 and is now known around the world, especially after winning the Gulbenkian Prize for museum of the year in 2005.
A visit to Big Pit includes a 300ft (90m) descent into the old colliery, where a former coalminer will take you on a fascinating and personal tour with the sights, sounds and smells of the mine creating an impression of what working life was like at the coalface.
Above ground there is an exciting 20 minute audio-visual presentation describing the daily toil of miners and the changing methods of coalmining through time.
The museum also includes historic buildings linked to the coal industry including a blacksmith’s forge, stables, miners’ canteen, explosives magazine and winding house. Perhaps the most fascinating are the Pithead Baths, which were voted Wales’s best national treasure in a 2007 BBC television programme. You can see the intact showers and locker rooms, along with artefacts and exhibition displays that provide an understanding of the daily life of a coalminer.
Part of the National Museum of Wales, admission to Big Pit is free. Big Pit is the United Kingdom’s leading mining museum and offers an entertaining yet informative day out for everybody.