Thursday, 3 May 2012

Free.. and Really Interesting!

While we were on holiday near Crickhowell the other week we popped over the hills to visit the Blaenavon World Heritage Site.  We spent ages exploring the Ironworks.  The photo at the top shows the remains of the huge lift that moved trucks from the works to the tramway that crossed the moors.  The photo below shows Mark by the mouth of one of the huge furnaces.

My favourite part of the ironworks were the old workers cottages.  Some of them had been gutted and housed a display about the ironworks and the town.  The majority were intact and furnished as they would have been at various times since 1789.

There was mock up of the shop for the workers and a very interesting explanation of the 'truck system'.  (I'd learnt about this system of exploiting the workers when I studied O Level History but I'd completely forgotten about it since then!)

Some of the cottages had a 1930s theme.  The green doors are the 'privies'.  I started to tell Mark stories of visiting my Great-Aunt when I was a little girl.  She lived in a cramped cottage just like these in a small mill town near Mancester. 

I was just on the point of explaining about her 'kitchenette' when we walked into the next cottage and there was one right in front of us!  I just had to take a photo.  I remember that my Great-Aunt's had a small foldaway table and masses of useful storage.  It was perfect for her tiny kitchen. 

It took us about an hour and a half to read our way through the displays, listen to all the information posts around the site and walk through the cottages.   I was surprised that such a great site was completely free. 

We then walked the short distance down the hill to the World Heritage Visitor Centre. The old buildings on the right house further displays and an Art Gallery. The glass extension is a really lovely cafe.

This was the view across the valley from the cafe. The low buildings on the right are part of The Big Pit - the National Mining Museum. We spent quite a bit of time chatting to a few local people. They explained that visitors tend to come to The Big Pit but they don't tend to come down the hill and visit the rest of the site. We really enjoyed a fascinating morning.

Other news from 'Stand and Stare land'... My Lovely Pregnant Colleague had her baby at 1.30 this morning.  She's had a little boy.  Another colleague within the Arts Faculty had a baby girl last night as well - in the same hospital.  Apparently they were in next door beds!  They had joked about this happening before the event and it was amusing to hear that it actually happened.

I've got a performance with my Year 9 Btec class this evening so it's been rehearsals and keeping them all calm since lunchtime.  To be honest I feel really tired at the moment and could just curl up into a ball and sleep! I'm sure that this lack of energy comes from our ridiculous weather.  Never mind - almost the Bank Holiday weekend!


  1. Congratulations to your colleagues! What an amazing coincidence.
    Your tour was wonderful - especially the old workers cottages. Those privies are interesting, I have never seen them located like that before. I hope tonight is a success.

  2. Hello Jan:
    Like you, we are sure that we should have found the workers cottages the most interesting part of the visit. The interiors are so intriguing and so beautifully presented. As you say, it seems like a wonderful place and all for free.

    You must be looking forward to a long weekend break from the classroom. Nobody except a teacher understands how utterly draining teaching is and how much one needs holiday times to recharge the batteries. Good luck with the performance!

  3. I love anything like this - how interesting - thank you for sharing. Hope the performance goes well and how I agree with Jane's comments above - only a teacher! xx

  4. It looks fascinating. We had a little kitchenette similar to that when I was a child before we had a 'fitted' kitchen. I love those cottages, they just don't build houses with character these days. Glad to hear that the babies arrived safely. Hope the performance this evening goes well, are they singing? I'd love to hear a little more about it. Mick's taken the day off work tomorrow so he's got an extra long weekend, it'll be taken up with him decorating though. Hall, stairs and landing this time.

  5. I enjoyed your tour. Thanks for sharing. Congrats on the new babies; I have a new grandbaby coming in August.

  6. It looks a fascinating place to visit. I too would be most interested in the workers cottages and the shop. I remember when I was a child visiting an older couple who were friends of my grandma - I was fascinated with her kitchen sink in a cupboard at the side of the range in her living room:)

  7. I so love places like this....and I am with you on the teacher draining and my (also a teacher) husband are very much in need of a three day weekend. Enjoy yours xx

  8. Hello Jan,
    Sorry I should have left a comment the other day when I joined your blog.
    These photographs are really good ....I really like visiting places like this and the kitchen reminds me of my Auntie's place down in Somerset that I used to visit during the summer holidays.

    Amanda (amasmi20)
    at Crafty in the Med