(Blaenafon) is a town
and World Heritage Site
in south eastern Wales
, lying at the source of the Afon Llwyd
north of Pontypool
, within the historic boundaries
. The town lies high on a hillside and has a population of 6,349 people.
Blaenavon grew around an ironworks opened in 1788, part of which is now a museum. The steel-making and coal mining industries followed, boosting the town's population to over 20,000 at one time , but since the ironworks closed in 1900 and the coal mine in 1980, the population has declined, and now consists mostly of older citizens.
Attempts have recently been made to turn the town's image around by introducing it as Wales's second "book town" (the first being Hay-on-Wye). However after over a year of attempts to attract visitors the project seems not to have succeeded. This can be attributed to a combination of the town's remote location and the established competition from Hay. Investments and local interest have completely transformed the town's main thoroughfare (Broad Street) from what it used to look like and the book shops (the few that survived) stock good quality and excellent value books. There are many thriving community groups within the town, including Future Blaenavon, which has helped to create a community garden at the bottom of the town.
Attractions in the town include the Big Pit National Coal Museum (an Anchor Point of ERIH, The European Route of Industrial Heritage), Blaenavon Iron Works , the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway, Blaenavon Male Voice Choir and many historical walks through Blaenavons historic mountains.
Blaenavon is twinned with Coutras, France.
Time Team dig
and archaeology Channel 4 TV
programme, Time Team
came to Blaenavon during its February
2001 series to find "The 'Lost Viaduct'", "the world's first railway viaduct
". It had been built in 1790 and was used by horse-drawn wagons
to carry coal from the mines. It measured 40 metres
long and 10 metres high, and yet within about 25 years of its construction, it had completely disappeared. But with no records of its demolition, the group were there to both try to locate the structure, and to see if it was still there. The results of this were that, eventually, during the mid-late afternoon of the final (third) day of the 'dig' they managed to uncover the top of the viaduct, which had an arched roof added, beneath 12-15 metres of rubble and earth, seemingly still standing. However, because it was so late on their last day, and for safety reasons, they were unable to dig any further, but it means that future archeological excavations
should be more successful.
Gallery of Blaenavon Photos