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Blaenavon Ironworks: A Visitor's Guide

Blaenavon Ironworks boasts a wealth of history and is extremely popular with guests staying at the Gliffaes Country House Hotel. Now one of the finest preserved 18th-century ironworks in the world, it was featured in the 2007 BBC reality TV series “Coal House” for its authentic look and feel.

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The Gliffaes Hotel Guide To Blaenavon Ironworks

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Is Blaenavon Ironworks?

Blaenavon Ironworks, North St, Blaenavon NP4 9RN (approximately 30 minutes drive from Gliffaes Country House Hotel)

When Is Blaenavon Ironworks Open?

Blaenavon Ironworks remains open throughout the year, with limited opening days/hours during the colder months. It is closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day

April-October:

Monday-Sunday from 10:00am-5:00pm

November-March:

Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:00am-4:00pm

(Closed Monday-Thursday)

How Long Should I Spend At Blaenavon Ironworks?

Allow 2-3 hours to fully appreciate the experience at Blaenavon Ironworks

How Much Is Entry To Blaenavon Ironworks?

Children (under 5 years old): Free entry

Children (aged 5-17): £4.10

Over 60s: £5.40

Adults: £5.90

Family Ticket (2 adults + 3 children): £19.50

Prices are correct at the time of writing. For up-to-date pricing and information, please visit the CADW website for Blaenavon Ironworks

Can I Park At Blaenavon Ironworks?

There is a car park situated approximately 200 metres away which has parking for around 40 cars. There is no charge to use this car park

Is Blaenavon Ironworks Wheelchair-Accessible?

Blaenavon Ironworks is wheelchair-accessible, though there may be certain areas which wheelchair users or people with walking difficulties find unsuitable

When Is The Best Time To Visit Blaenavon Ironworks?

Blaenavon Ironworks is open daily from April-October, so these months offer the most convenience to be able to visit at your leisure. From November-March, opening is limited to Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so plan your visit accordingly

What Should I Wear To Blaenavon Ironworks?

As Blaenavon Ironworks is open throughout the year, so it is important to dress for the weather. Comfortable footwear should also be worn as the site does have some uneven terrain

Is Blaenavon Ironworks Dog-Friendly?

Dogs are welcome on the ground floor levels of the site, but must be kept on leads at all times

Is There WiFi At Blaenavon Ironworks?

WiFi is not available at Blaenavon Ironworks

Blaenavon Ironworks: The Fuel Of The Industrial Revolution

Blaenavon Ironworks boasts a wealth of history and is extremely popular with guests staying at the Gliffaes Country House Hotel.

Now one of the finest preserved 18th-century ironworks in the world, the workers’ cottages were featured in the 2007 BBC reality TV series “Coal House” for their authentic look and feel.

Blaenavon Ironworks: A Brief History

Blaenavon Ironworks was strategically located on the southern side of the Brecon Beacons as the hills had a plentiful supply of iron ore, coal and limestone.

The land was leased in 1787 by three businessmen from the Midlands, with construction of the ironworks beginning almost immediately. With the design including the provision of three furnaces, this was the first multi-furnace ironworks to be purpose-built in Wales.

Construction of the ironworks was completed (along with a number of luxury cottages) by 1789, with production beginning the same year. Growth was rapid, and by 1800, South Wales was the largest producer of iron in the world, with Blaenavon Ironworks producing the second-largest amount behind Merthyr Tydfil’s Cyfarthfa Ironworks. By the mid-19th century output and reached an impressive 35,000 tons, but sales then started to decline until its relaunch in 1870.

Now known as Blaenavon Iron & Steel Company, it employed more than 5,000 people but was facing stiff competition from other entrants to the industry. Poor management over the previous half century had left the company on the brink of financial ruin.

Sidney Gilchrist Thomas Experiments

Sidney Gilchrist Thomas was an English inventor. While studying at the Birkbeck Institute, his lecturer claimed “the man who eliminates phosphorus by means of the Bessemer converter will make his fortune”.

In 1875, Sidney believed that he had conceived a way of eliminating phosphorus and disclosed his method with his cousin, Percy Gilchrist, who was a chemist at Blaenavon Iron & Steel Company.

They shared their preliminary results and, suitably impressed by their initial experiments, the manager of Blaenavon Iron & Steel Company allowed Sidney and Percy the use of the facilities to conduct more substantial experiments and also assisted them in securing a patent for their method.

Stack Square Cottages

The construction of the cottages at Stack Square started in 1789 – the same year that Blaenavon Ironworks began production. The cottages were completed by 1792 and housed many of the ironworks’ employees.

Known as Shop Square for the first 60 years, it became known as Stack Square in 1853 when a boiler stack was created in the middle of the square.

The 2007 reality TV show “Coal House” and 2009 follow-up “Coal House At War” featured the cottages in Stack Square, mainly due to their authentic appearance. The cottages have been derelict since 1968 and were equipped to look as they would have in specific years – 1926, 1944, 1953 & 1967.

Featuring original furnishings and decorations and calling on local knowledge from the Blaenavon community, the cottages were transformed into convincing examples of how they would have looked when occupied by the foundry workers.

Overworked And Underpaid: Hard Labour At Blaenavon

Keeping the Blaenavon furnaces fuelled was a thankless job. Labourers worked 12 hours per day, 7 days per week to satisfy the demands of the furnace manager.

You would think that such a physically demanding job would be carried out exclusively by men, but many of the workforce were women and children. At one point, government inspectors discovered nearly 200 children working in various roles within Blaenavon – some who were as young as 5 years old.

Multiple reports suggest that 25% of those children were girls, reinforcing the fact that no-one could escape the pressures of working in one of the United Kingdom’s most demanding furnaces.

Blaenavon Ironworks Fun Facts

  1. In 2007, the cottages at Blaenavon Ironworks appeared on the BBC reality TV show, “Coal House”
  2. Products from Blaenavon were exported all over the world – as far afield as South America, Africa and the Far East
  3. Blaenavon became a World Heritage Site in 2000 after receiving its status from UNESCO

How To Find Blaenavon Ironworks

Blaenavon Ironworks is approximately 30 minutes drive from Gliffaes Country House Hotel.

When leaving the hotel, head east before turning right onto the A40. Continue on the A40 for approximately 2.5 miles and then turn right onto New Road (A4077).

When reaching the roundabout at Heads of the Valleys Road, take the 3rd exit and continue onto the B4246 for around 5 miles.

Turn right onto Estate Road and before turning right again to arrive at Blaenavon Ironworks.

Other Attractions Near Blaenavon Ironworks

Located just a few hundred metres from Blaenavon Ironworks is the Big Pit National Coal Museum. With the sites situated just a stone’s throw from each other and closely linked in their history, it makes sense to visit them both on the same day.

The Blaenafon Cheddar Company is a family-run business that ages some of its cheddar at the bottom of the nearby Big Pit. Offering many different flavours of cheese, it is difficult to pick your favourite!

Approximately 20 miles from Blaenavon Ironworks is Penderyn Distillery. Putting Welsh whisky back on the map after a 100 year absence, a visit here is recommended for the single malt enthusiasts.

Book Your Brecon Beacons Escape

Gliffaes Country House Hotel is nestled in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

We’ve created a useful guide of local attractions and activities in the Brecon Beacons, containing information on walks, things to do, local shopping, and places to visit, which you can use to help map out your visit to the Brecon Beacons.

If you’re looking for a place to enjoy a fresh, locally sourced lunch, dinner or afternoon tea, or somewhere comfortable to stay the night, our friendly country house hotel is the perfect base for your Brecon Beacons break.

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