Cardiff family lifestyle, arts and culture blog.

8/12/2017

Museum of Welsh Mining at Rhondda Heritage Park.


The summer holidays aren't always sunshine and beach time, so it's nice to have affordable activities that don't rely on the weather. We love a bit of history, so when we were invited along to the Museum of Welsh Mining at Rhondda Heritage Park, we jumped at the chance. 

Whilst I was studying at university I wrote a poem about Aberfan, I remember first discovering this devastating story, and since then mining and the history of miners has always been a bit of an interest to me. Both George and Molly are very interested in history and interactive and interested in hands-on learning, so a tour of the mine and a chat seemed like a pretty perfect day out for them!


The prices are pretty decent for a family day out, with a family ticket costing only £17. You can book ahead like we did and some folk simply turned up and paid on the day. Once you've booked in, you wait for one of the tour guides to collect you, and whilst we waited George and Molly discovered the old fashioned stores and enjoyed a few minutes play before we headed out to the pit. 




It wasn't long before lovely Graham came to collect everyone. He walked us through the courtyard in the summer downpour to begin the tour. I'd definitely suggest taking waterproofs or an umbrella if the weather seems a little unpredictable, it will save you from getting wet.




It was fascinating to get up close to the equipment used within the old mine, and also a little daunting! George and Molly were pretty impressed with the various areas contributing to the work of the mine...





Graham filled us in on the reality of the mines, such as a law from the 1800's stating that women and children cannot go into the mines still exists, yet even back in the 50's women and children were often found down the pits because they needed to survive. I also thought the part about lamps, naked flames and general protocol for each member of staff pretty interesting! 



We were talked through the use of the canaries, how anyone caught with cigarettes and lighters were dismissed and if someone was a minute late they'd be sent immediately home for the day, losing their shift and their money. It was certainly a cut-throat time... 


Soon it was time to head underground and we were all so excited! We popped our helmets on and made our  way to the lift. It felt shaky and quite scary, but on the way down Warren realised we weren't actually going as far as everyone realised (a bonus in terms of safety, right?). We landed in the pit and it was awesome; dark tracks and old fashioned lighting, there was something strangely comforting about it all...







I love how Graham could refer to his own experiences as he talked us through things, and the history behind coal was fab. I particularly loved how Graham spoke to everyone, including the kids. He had such a lot of time for questions and he made a few cheeky jokes, so the tour moved along in such a steady and well balanced way.  




When we left the pit it was like a lightbulb moment, everyone coming out discussing how lucky we are to not have to risk our lives in that way. Graham explained that, on average, 4 people died per day  when the mines were open. It's such a devastating piece of information...

The outside of the building is simply stunning, and it's hard not to be mesmerised by its structure.


Since visiting I've been telling everyone how fab this tour is, as well as the buildings within the park; they're so beautuful. I think I'd go back there in a flash!

Have you been to the Museum of Welsh Mining yet? What did you think?
 
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