The Big Pit Mining museum of Wales UK

Steve B

The Big Pit at Blaenavon is the UK's national coal museum and is based in South Wales just north of Newport. It's the UK's only mining museum which still has a working winding house and lift to allow visitors to decend 300ft to the mines coal faces. Blaenavon is situated at the far eastern side of the coal fields which cover most the region, approx 1000 square miles once there were well over 620 mines in the region but by 2004 just one deep mine remains which produces small quantities of superior quality steam coal which is unrivalled anywhere due to it's very low percentage of sulpher which reduces clinkering, the binding quality also ensures there is no sparking so making it ideal steam coal for dry countries such as India. The mines reached there peak output in 1913 when 57 million ton's were mined by 232800 men women and children. the coal was dug out by hand useing pick's (mandrels as they are known here) shovels, and the occasional explosive blast, it was then loaded by hand into trams and pulled out by women and pony's and more recently by battery powered tram. In 1973 a drift was driven to the surface to extract the last workable seams and in 1980 due to the exhaustion of workable coal seams by traditional methods the mine closed for the last time,,,, or has it. In 1983 the mine was opened as a museum as a tribute to the men women and children who once worked in the mines, it was more then a job, it was a whole way of life which should neven be forgotten, ever.
If you are ever in the UK you should visit the museum, entry is free but donations are very welcome, the tour guides are ex miners from the region and have a great passion for what they did, one more thing, the last two pit pony's in Wales retired in 1999 yes 1999.

here is a quote from the tour guide booklet
The Devil made coal
made it black like himself and hid it in the deepest recesses of the earth
so that he might drive man mad inthe finding of it

mortar mixing room, this is a limestone crusher

The boys waiting to decend

Sign on the baths wall

blacksmith's repair shop

What i think is a Hudswell clarke saddle tank loco

The 1973 drift enterance

View of the winding house and pit head gear

some assorted wagon parts and axles, the spoked wheels are very old and date back over 100 years, the disc type wheels are more recent

From another mine but very interesting is this water powered lift which can lift one ton of coal in a tram

here we have a rotary dumper which takes one tram at once, drops the contents into a grader and washer for loading into waiting railcars

pit news and targets

more recent loader, electric hydraulic powered

battery powered locomotive

more wagons waiting attention

and a very interesting winch, steam powered but here converted to work on compressed air

these trams were used in the hundreds below ground

:D Enjoy, i did.
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Looks like it would of been a cool trip. Awhile ago I went to a coal mine near my house that gives tours, and I got to ride into a coal mine and see what it's like inside. It was my first time I ever was in one and it was pretty cool :) Wish I had a working camera then :(
Awesome post Steve! It looks like ya'll had fun. What a treasure to see the history that's been preserved. :cool:
Very nice pictures, Steve. I'd love to go but I smoke and spit a lot. :) Seriously, it looks like a great tour and I'm glad to see the UK is preserving some of its coal mining heritage.
Cheers gents,,, of note is the fact that the very last working mine in Wales just closed it's doors for the last time, the mine was worked out, no coal left without open cast mining the site,,, no chance would they allow them to move a mountain to get at it.