This was a huge hit during lockdown, and just as much now, for young and old. BIG PIT is one of those real-life attractions which is always popular with the kids, the older kids amongst us love it too as it takes us on a trip down memory lane. And for all of us, it’s a reminder of those times gone by which brought us right here to this point in our lives.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could really step back in time and see what life was like for our ancestors? We have loads of ways to do that, of course, but in Blaenavon they’ve brought the past right up to date. This has been around for a little while now, but we thought it would be a good chance for you to explore it.

We’ll tell you how you can step back in time, from the comfort of your own mobile device, in a few minutes. For those who don’t know a lot about Big Pit, then we reckon you really should, it’s a very special place.

BIG PIT – NATIONAL COAL MUSEUM is the most popular attraction within the Blaenavon World Heritage Site. The museum is based around the former Big Pit Colliery, which was sunk in about 1860 and closed in 1980. The site reopened as a museum in 1983 and is now known around the world, especially after winning the Gulbenkian Prize for museum of the year in 2005.

It includes a 300ft (90m) descent into the old colliery, where a former coalminer will take you on a fascinating and personal tour with the sights, sounds and smells of the mine creating an impression of what working life was like at the coalface.

Above ground there is an exciting 20 minute audio-visual presentation describing the daily toil of miners and the changing methods of coalmining through time.

The museum also includes historic buildings linked to the coal industry including a blacksmith’s forge, stables, miners’ canteen, explosives magazine and winding house. Perhaps the most fascinating are the Pithead Baths, which were voted Wales’s best national treasure in a 2007 BBC television programme. You can see the intact showers and locker rooms, along with artefacts and exhibition displays that provide an understanding of the daily life of a coalminer.

Being part of the National Museum of Wales, admission to Big Pit is free. It is actually the United Kingdom’s leading mining museum and offers an entertaining yet informative day out for everybody. As soon as things return to some sort of normality, we highly recommend a visit. BIG PIT

In the meantime……….

If you’ve ever wondered what it was like to live and work in Victorian Blaenavon – then you’re in luck! The TIME TRAVEL IN BLAENAVON is a fantastic way to discover the sights and sounds of 19th and 20th century Blaenavon.

Internationally recognised as the world’s major producer of iron and coal during the 19th century, Blaenavon World Heritage Site is an exceptional testimony to the dynamic forces that drove the Industrial Revolution. It is hoped that this immersive experience and Time Travellers’ benches will encourage visitors to further engage and take interest in the area’s rich heritage.

Featuring real characters from Blaenavon’s industrial past, ‘Time Travel in the Blaenavon World Heritage Site’ uses audio storytelling and three-dimensional technology to display the town’s rich industrial history through three virtual reality films – showcasing life at Big Pit, the town primary school and the home of a local family in Blaenavon Heritage Town.

Using smart devices, the immersive content can be viewed at three iconic locations across the internationally celebrated region, including Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon World Heritage Centre and Blaenavon Heritage Town – which all feature in the immersive films.

Available to view via the Blaenavon Digital Passport, the virtual reality portray the trials and tribulations encountered by the industrial workers, as well as families and communities during the Industrial Revolution – with each educational film based on real characters and factual information sourced from local history groups and archives.

From experiencing the hardship of working life at Big Pit with local miner, Henry Underwood, to celebrating the opening of St Peter’s School – which was built by Sarah Hopkins in remembrance of her brother and Ironmaster, Samuel Hopkins. You get to watch, in real-time as modern-day Blaenavon landmarks and buildings return to a momentous time gone by. 

The films can be viewed with or without an accompanying VR headset, which are available to borrow from Big Pit National Coal Museum (deposit of £5 required) or Blaenavon World Heritage Centre, or can be simply viewed using a mobile phone. Plus, you can revisit the on-site experience and view the digital package at home using a desktop browser.

In addition to the arrival of the new digital package, Torfaen County Borough Council and Big Pit National Coal Museum have unveiled three bespoke Time Travellers’ benches to support the project – with a different bench design located at each site for visitors to use while enjoying the immersive VR films.

To turn back the clocks, all you need to do is visit the Blaenavon Digital Passport and look out for the Time Travellers’ benches! Located across the World Heritage Site, they provide the perfect place to sit down, access the films and step back in time. If you want to enjoy the experience at its best, this is the place to do it – when it is all fully open.

Created by Welsh artist Rubin Eynon, each bench has been designed to commemorate Blaenavon’s rich heritage and forged out of local materials to represent the area’s coal and mining industries.   

You can get more details on this brilliant event right here. HERITAGE and if you want to Time Travel wight now on your mobile device, just click to be magically transported to a time gone by TIME TRAVEL

Just be aware that the Blaenavon Digital Passport is optimised for portrait mobile devices. If you are viewing it on a desktop you will need to reduce your screen size to view the passport correctly.

One other thing, it’s brilliant.