Blaenavon Industrial Landscape

Blaenavon Industrial Landscape Ironworks, Wales
Blaenavon Industrial Landscape Ironworks - © Alan Stanton

The town of Blaenavon in Wales and the surrounding area forms the basis for the World Heritage Site here, the WHS status was attained back in 2000 and has helped to increase the profile of the area and highlight the importance and significant historical contribution the area has made. Located in South Wales the town offers visitors the chance to see a number of visitor attractions that showcase the contribution the area has made. There are a number of sites with historical and cultural importance in the area where visitors can learn more as well as enjoying a day out.

Overview


The World Heritage Site known as the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape is located approx 40 km from Cardiff in Wales; the history of the area is synonymous with the iron and coal industries in the 18th and 19th centuries. The local industrial landscape highlights the importance of this region in Wales to the production of coal and iron not just for the UK but worldwide. The Ironworks have been preserved, built back in 1789 they provide a window in history taking visitors back to the time in the 19th century when they were at the heart of industry. Visitors to the area will gain an insight in to the history of the area and how it helped to influence and played a leading role in the industrial revolution in the UK.

The site has plenty to offer visitors there are ore and coal mines, the railway system, quarries and workers' homes offering a real sense of historical and cultural perspective. The local people who lived here in the 18 and 19th centuries played a leading role in the Industrial Revolution that was to have far reaching impact and implication not only for the UK but around the world.

The World Heritage Site has also brought recognition and increased awareness to an area that had suffered the negative effects of the decline of the iron and ore industries along with the associated economic decline and social damage. The WHS has helped bring about increased awareness and a higher profile for the area, the plans for the area involve ensuring the preservation and conversation of the historical sites of great value along with a plan to further develop the area to regenerate the area.

The main focus of the area is Blaenavon Ironworks, a site in state care, where there are remains of a works with six blast furnaces in which, from 1789 until 1902, ore was smelted to produce pig iron. When the works was established, it was decided confidently to put into practice the latest technology and industrial organisation. Unlike almost all previous ironworks it was built with three blast furnaces from the start, operated with steam power. It was immediately one of the largest ironworks in the world. With its exceptional range of surviving structures, Blaenavon Ironworks is the best preserved blast furnace complex of its period and type in the world.

The Blaenavon Ironworks were opened back in 1788 and went on to become the largest ironworks in the world in its heyday in the early part of the 19th century. The Ironworks then gradually declined thereafter with the advent of steel production, the Ironworks here represent the finest example of a preserved blast furnace complex of its type in the world and is considered to be at the centrepiece of the WHS. Visitors to the site can see exhibitions to trace the process of iron production and learn about the significance of the ironworks. Close by are the workman’s cottages of Stack Square built for the workers and their families. Visitors can get a great insight in to what work and life would have been like here all those years ago.

Big Pitt National Mining Museum of Wales is an actual coal mine where visitors can go on the well known underground tour some 300 feet underground with an actual coal miner to learn more about what life was like for the people that worked in the mines. Big Pit is a museum that has international significance, the coal that was mined here was used for many uses, including for steelmaking, the making of bricks, powering steam engines and used to be exported as fuel for trains and ships. Big Pit provides visitors with a vivid presentation of all things related to coal and coal mining.

Blaenavon town itself is synonymous with the industrial landscape here and the WHS. The town is home to the ironworks and witnessed an influx of works for the ironworks in the 18th and 19th centuries. As more workers were coming to the town for work, more facilities were developed for the town and housing for the workers. The town and its preserved buildings and features provide visitors with a wonderful example of what a growing town would have been like during the industrial revolution.

The Cordell Museum in the town contains many local objects and artefacts that tell the interesting tales of the town to visitors. The storey of the town is shown from the early period of the industrial revolution right through to the present day and its status as a World Heritage site. There are a number of archaeological finds, photographs from the past and furniture all of which help to build up a picture of the past here for visitors.

The Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway was built back in 1866 to help the transportation of coal on to the Midlands region in the UK. A few years later the line was further extended to go all the way through Pontypool on to Newport on the coast. In 1941 the line was closed for passengers and thirteen years later it was also closed for goods too. The original track has been preserved, the line passes through a variety of spectacular landscapes in the Welsh countryside providing great scenery.

St Peters Church is located in Blaenavon town, it was built in 1804 and was among the earliest buildings to be built in the town. The church is still in use today and has an active congregation and plays a leading role in the local community.


How To Get There


The World Heritage Site at Blaenavon is located in South Wales, it is accessible by car and public transport:

By Car:

If travelling from Birmingham and the North, take the M5 South, exit at junction 8 and take the M50 to Ross on Wye. Then take the A40 to Abergavenny, at the roundabout take the second exit onto the A465. Exit the A465 at the first exit and follow the signs for Blaenavon and Big Pit.

If travelling from London and the South West area, take the M4 West and exit at Junction 25A at Newport. Then take the A4042 up to Pontypool, at the roundabout take first exit and follow the A4043 to Blaenavon.

By Train:

From London Paddington Station there are services to Newport Station in Wales. The station is also linked to Bristol and Cardiff. There are also services from Birmingham New Street Station and Manchester Piccadilly to Abergavenny Station, a few miles from the WHS.

From Newport passengers can take bus numbers 23, 30 and X24 to get to Blaenavon.

From Abergavenny passengers can use bus numbers X3 and X4.

By Bus:

There are bus services from the town of Newport to Blaenavon on Route Numbers X24, 23, 30.

There are bus services from Abergavenny to Blaenavon on Route Numbers X3 and X4.


Contact Details


Address:

Blaenavon Project
Department for the Environment
Torfaen County Borough Council
County Hall
Cwmbran
NP44 2WN
Wales

Telephone: +44 (0)1633 648343

Fax: +44 (0)1633 648088

Website: Blaenavon World Heritage Site


Facilities and Information



Further Information:

The Big Pit National Coal Museum of Wales:

Opening Times:
Mon to Sun: 09.30 to 17.00

Underground Tours: 10.00 to 15.30

For opening times in December and January it is recommended visitors double check with museum first.

Free Admission

Blaenavon Ironworks:

Opening times:

Mon to Sun: 10.00 to 17.00 (April to end of October)

From Nov to end of March:

Fri & Sat: 9.30 to 16.00
Sun: 11.00 to 16.00

Closed on Mon, Tue, Wed and Thurs.
Last admission thirty minutes before closing

Free Admission

Cordell Museum:

Mon to Thur: 10.00 to 16.00 (April to end of Sept)
Sat: 10.00 to 13.00

1st October – 31st March
Mon, Tues & Thurs: 10.00 to 16.00 (Oct to end of Mar)
Sat: 10.00 to 13.00

Note: Closed between 13.00 and 14.00 around the year.

Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway:

Usually open from Easter time to the end of September: 11.30 to 17.00

Ticket Prices:
Adult £2.40 approx
Child £1.20 approx
Family Ticket: £6.00


Map



View Larger Map

For Local Search and Directions see: Blaenavon Map


Tips & Other Considerations


There may be some variations on the opening hours of the visitor attractions depending on the time of year and other factors. Visitors are advised to double check each attraction they wish to see before going & avoid disappointment.

When travelling always remain alert and aware of your surroundings and environment. Follow travel safety advice & ensure your belongings in particular your wallet/purse and valuables are hidden away from public view (especially at tourist attractions & places with crowds). If you have a bag try to use a shoulder bag with a good quality, strong strap, that is put across your shoulder not on your shoulder making it more difficult for anyone to take your bag.

If you are travelling by car to Blaenavon ensure you are well prepared with maps and Sat Nav to aid your journey, particularly if you are not familiar with the local area and roads. It is recommended drivers exercise caution and drive safely. Use the Journey Planning tool to find door to door directions for both car and public transport journeys.

If you are looking for local car parking in Blaenavon and the WHS, ensure you fully understand the rules, regulations & charges for car parks and street parking before you park your car. The rules & regulations can be complex if you are not sure it is wise not to park there.

If you are travelling by public transport, check for service updates prior to beginning your journey for any delays, disruption or cancellations to services that may impact on your journey. Ensure you have the service timetables for the trains, buses and coaches. Remember when the last services are and ensure you make it to the train/bus/coach stops well in time to avoid missing the service.


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