Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Mining our history

Below is my “Big Day Out” column from the Saturday, February 18, 2012, Swansea edition of the South Wales Evening Post.
 





















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Mining our history
A big day out!
RICHARD THOMAS heads to …
The South Wales Miners’ Museum in Afan Forest Park.
  
WHY? Around the country and throughout the world, South Wales was famous for its mining industry, which provided work for hundreds of families in the area and was vital to the economy of small South Wales communities like the Afan Valley. At the South Wales Miners’ Museum in Afan Forest Park visitors have the chance to take a step back in time and see what life was like for miners and their families through their eyes.
WHAT’S THE BUZZ? The South Wales Miners’ Museum celebrates the coal mining industry and its workforce in the South Wales coalfield. The past is brought to life at the museum using a comprehensive collection of photographs, historical artefacts and even life sized models of miners dressed in original gear and equipment.
ANY HISTORY? After mining ceased in the Afan Valley in the 1970s the area faced widespread unemployment and an uncertain future. The original Welsh Miners’ Museum was officially opened in 1976 as part of the effort to rehabilitate the valley in the aftermath of this cataclysm. The first museum of its type in Wales, the main exhibit was a manikin display showing life in a traditional miner’s cottage. There were also document and photo displays showing what life was like for the miners. By the 1980s, however, the portable cabins housing the museum were deteriorating and a new permanent building was needed. Today’s South Wales Miner’s Museum was built in 2008 using funding from Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council, Welsh Assembly and other sources.
WHAT TO TAKE? There is a small charges to help with the costs of running the museum. Admissions costs are £2 for adults and just £1 for children. Senior Citizen’s can visit for £1.50 and children under five go free! Hot drinks are available in the café. And make sure you bring a camera so you can take some photographs.
LOOK OUT FOR? Situated close to the museum is a range of outdoor exhibits including a blacksmith shop and lamp room to check out.
WHEN TO GO? Until March you can visit the museum between Tuesday and Sunday from 10.30am to 3.30pm. From Easter and until the end of the summer the museum will be open daily between 10am and 4pm.
TELL ME MORE: The museum is located in the beautiful Afan Valley and is only six miles on the A4107 from the M4. For sat-nav users the address and postcode is: South Wales Miners' Museum, Afan Forest Park, Cynonville, Port Talbot, SA13 3HG. Pre booking is advisable. You can find out more by phoning 01639 851833 or you can go to www.southwalesminersmuseum.co.uk.

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