Big Pit: National Coal Museum

Blaenavon Torfaen NP4 9XP

Big Pit is a Welsh institution and has been ever since it started as a coal mine back in 1860.  Then, over a century later, the nationalisation of the British coal mines came along and forced its closure. Since then – and quite fittingly – the grand working mine was turned into museum, where children and adults alike can learn about the life of a miner.  However, be prepared: this isn't like any museum you've ever been to before. Unless you've already descended a 300ft mine shaft, kitted out in full miners gear with an ex miner rehashing his tales from the past right in front of you? Probably not. Hands down, in just one fifty-minute tour, this place will blow you away. Mostly because of the history and past lives it represents.  Everybody knows of the miners strike and a certain Mrs Thatcher, but until you've been inside a coal mine, and seen the ridiculous conditions the workers faced and yet fought so hard to keep, you'll never fully understand it.  What's more, it's free.