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Big Pit National Coal Museum

September 15th, 2015 / / No Comments »

The Big Pit National Coal Museum, near Abergavenny, offers a fantastic insight into the workings of a coal mine.  With FREE underground tours, guided by former miners, this is an attraction that works well for all the family.

Don a hard hat & miners lamp before taking the cage 90 metres underground to explore the pit in the company of a ex-miner.  You’ll be able to re-live the life of a miner, deep underground, taking in the sights & smells of a world from another time.

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Exterior shot of the the Big Pit National Coal Museum

Big Pit National Coal Museum

 

Big Pit National Coal Mine; Underground Tour

You’ll start with a journey down to the floor of the mine by taking the mine cage, some 90 metres underground. Once at the bottom, you’ll be guided around the coal faces as you discover conditions for the miners through the years.

This journey is brought alive by the engaging tour guides & former miners; each guide brings his own unique perspective to the tour and makes for a compelling experience.  In a sense we are the fortunate ones that can experience a contemporary look at the coal mines & take on board the harsh realities for the miners through the generations.

For us, the combination of a unique setting coupled with a range of charismatic guides sets these tours apart & makes it a not-to-missed experience.

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Underground tours with former miner

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The Big Pit; Top Tips

1. During busy times, tickets for the free underground tours can run out quickly so best to arrive 30 minutes before the first tour of the day, (as the visitor centre opens), to avoid disappointment.

2. Whilst the museum & underground tour is free, there is a small charge for parking.  Be aware that the parking meter only starts working each day as the visitor centre opens so there is no added advantage for early birds.

3. During busy times, the centre will pause from issuing further tour tickets, but this can be due to queue capacity limitations rather tours being fully booked.  Worth checking with the staff whether further tickets will be available later in the day once the queue has dissipated.  We found it can be worth waiting around.

4. During term time, groups of 10 or more can book in advance for the underground tour, (limited availability during the school holidays), that can reduce wait times.

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LateRooms

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Former miner's locker

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5. Remember to wrap up warm for the underground tour regardless of the weather ‘up top’ as remember you are 90 metres underground.

6. For health & safety reasons, there is a ban on battery operated items such as cameras, mobile phones, watches & key fobs during the underground tours.  Before entering the mine shaft lift, each guide collects all prohibited items to store within a secured locker.  If you select this option, then you can still take a quick photo of your group complete with hard hats & miners lamp before handing over your phone/camera.

7. Yes it’s dark, the ground is uneven in places & space is confined underground so this tour is not for everyone.  Great to see that this underground tour is accessible for wheelchair users.

8. Whilst you cannot tip your guide, you can leave a donation at the end of the tour that goes toward the upkeep of the attraction.

Accommodation

LateRooms

Bluestone National Park Resort

 

the shower area at the Big Pit National Coal Museum

Big Pit Showers

 

National Coal Mining Museum; More To See

1. Exhibitions; for those interested in learning more about the coal mining industry, check out the extensive collection of photographs, historic artifacts & exhibits.

2. Big Pit Showers; discover how miners strived to keep clean after a long shift down the pit.

3. Cafe; visit the original miner’s canteen that remains a fully functioning cafeteria.

4. Events; keep an eye out for special events running throughout the year.

Lamp Room’s new glass-topped Furnace Shaft and peer down 140m – right to the bottom of the mine! Visitors going below ground can also gaze from the bottom up as they start their underground tour experience. – See more at: http://www.ncm.org.uk/visitors/underground-tours#sthash.J4eotjjg.dpu
Please note that the battery pack required on the tour weighs 2kg and must be worn by all participants. – See more at: http://www.ncm.org.uk/visitors/underground-tours#sthash.7oJhsPmy.dpu

Parking at National Coal Mining Museum

There is a small charge in place for  parking but as the underground tour & entry to the museum is free, we’re not complaining!

Sat Nav Postcode; NP4 9XP

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By Liz Walsh

 

 

 

 

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