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Big Pit in Blaenavon

Big Pit in Blaenavon

Going underground in Big Pit

Thanks to Blaenavon Ironworks and the Big Pit coal mine, a Welsh, once modest village became one of the key players in the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century.

The exact start date of Big Pit coal mine is still debated. The fact is that between 1880 and 1895, the mine grew into one of the largest mines in the region, employing 1.399 people  at its peak.

All that came to an end when Big Pit threw in the towel on 2 February 1980, just before Margaret Thatcher short-circuited the English and Welsh coal industry from 1984.

National Mining Museum 

Big Pit reopened as a museum in 1983. After some turbulent early years, the industrial landscape of Blaenavon, with the Big Pit and Blaenavon Ironworks, was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Fresh air

The ventilation building still blows fresh air into the mine and removes dangerous gases.

Visitors can descend up to 90 meters underground while a former miner tells the story about the coal extraction in the tunnels.


Since Big Pit is still classified as a working mine, strict rules apply from the HM Inspectorate of Mines: you are given a self-rescuer and everything that contains batteries remains above ground, ranging from car keys to watches.

That is why you will not find any photos of the underground galleries here.


You can see the horse stables in the pitch-dark tunnels, among other things. Before the arrival of locomotives, horses did the grueling work in the narrow tunnels.

At the end of the 19th century, around 200,000 horses worked in the British mines, spending months or even years in the dark.

Industrial landscape

The hills that embrace Blaenavon are home to other remnants of the early coal industry.

This industrial landscape plays a role in Blaenavon's recognition as a World Heritage Site and is gratefully used for filming, for example, for the Aberfan mine disaster episode in "The Crown."

Hill's Pit 

The base of a chimney is one of the traces of the earliest years of the Industrial Revolution. It is the only thing left standing of Hill's Pit, which closed in 1894.

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