250 years ago the landscape in this area was rural with wooded valley floors and pastureland, but all that changed as technology advanced and iron and coal became the great drivers of the Industrial Revolution.
Thanks to its rich geology South Wales had all the raw materials needed, and businessmen from all over the UK flocked here to exploit the mineral wealth. Other industries flourished such as tin and copper making.
The scale of industrialisation had a devastating impact on the landscape, not least of which was the development of towns and villages created to meet the needs of the growing labour force. Innovation drove the development of canals and railways to transport the coal and iron around the world. The Blaenavon World Heritage site provides and exceptional insight into the development of the an industrial landscape from the eighteenth to twentieth cennturies. It is the people's story, however, learn more about the people who made South Wales.
The Iron Works of South Wales were the largest in the world, Dowlais alone employed 6,000 people in the 1820's. In the 1850's a new process was patented in Blaenavon which enabled steel to be made on a large scale and many of the local ironworks quickly made the switch to steel.
By the end of the nineteenth century, iron production was in decline and coal became the main industry of South Wales. Coal mining reached its peak in 1913 by which time it employed over a quarter of a million people at over 500 collieries.
The Valleys is an area that is proud of its industrial heritage.