World Heritage Sites across the world capture the very best of man’s creativity and ingenuity. So it is a real honour that Blaenavon in The Valleys was recognised as a World Heritage Site in 2000; demonstrating the full social, economic and technological process of industrialisation through iron and coal production, the Industrial Revolution. Blaenavon embodies the fact that Wales was the first industrial nation.
So – what is here for visitors? Loads of fascinating attractions and stories to be uncovered.
Iron was at the heart of the development of Blaenavon. Now you can visit Blaenavon Ironworks and witness the furnace being tapped and the iron flowing (don’t worry, it’s not real iron) as well as witnessing how people lived overlooking the works.
Coal was equally important. Now you can go deep underground and experience the life of the miner at Big Pit National Coal Museum. The story of the coal industry in Wales – the camaraderie, the disasters and the inventions – are all on show, as well as the “characters” that are remembered at each colliery!
Education and religion were also vital to the development of Blaenavon. Visit The World Heritage Centre in the former school and discover the impact that Blaenavon had on the world, and then call into St Peter’s Church and see how important iron was to the whole community – even the font and grave covers are made of iron!
How about a walk around the town. When iron was first made here there were just a few farmsteads across the hills. At its peak, over 12,000 people lived in the town, and the High Street was so full that you could buy anything your needed.
The landscape is equally as important to the World Heritage Story. Across the hillsides you’ll find evidence of quarries and mines and you’ll follow the routes of tramways that used to take the iron over the hills to the canal.
There’s even more to be explored around Blaenavon. The Heritage Railway takes you back in time to when steam was king, and as it steams through the countryside you can see how the landscape has been reshaped. Then you can call into Rhymney Brewery and discover the secrets of making beer, that was once safer for the worker across The Valleys to drink than the water!
Blaenavon World Heritage Site tells the unique story of industry and ingenuity in south Wales. A visit will give you an insight into life 200 years ago as well as being a great day (or weekend) out!