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Our Blaenavon

A community connected to it's roots yet forever evolving...

At a quick glance...

Population: 6055

Former mining town

Size: 33 square km

UNESCO World Heritage Site (2000-present)

420m above sea level

 Blaenavon means ‘front of the river"

Local Authority: Torfaen

 Blaenavon sources the Afon Llwyd River

Visited by Queen Elizabeth

Twinned with Coutras, France


Our Story

Blaenavon is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Site and among the most historically and geographically fascinating towns in the UK. We sit 420m above sea level, and it is the source of the Afon Lwyd, the main river running through the county borough of Torfaen, South Wales’s easternmost valley. 

That's how Blaenavon got its name, as it literally means ‘front of the river’ or, loosely, ‘river's source’.​ It is unique in having both one of the best-preserved late 18th century ironworks in the world and also a coal mining museum providing underground tours. 

Officially, Blaenavon’s population peaked was at 12,469 in 1921, according to the census.  However, by this point the town was entering into the post-war economic slump so may have already experienced some outward migration - which continued at a dramatic pace through the 1920s and 1930s and then steadily in the late C20th.​

The period 1911-19 was relatively prosperous for Blaenavon, with the Welsh coal industry reaching its peak in 1913 and the First World War fuelling a demand for coal and steel.  While hundreds of Blaenavon men left the town to fight, there was also inward migration from people working at the mines and steelworks and an influx of Belgian refugees.

The 2011 census shows the population as 6,055, which was the first census to show an increase for 90 years.  And the construction over the past decade of hundreds of new houses means that by the next census, the population is likely to have risen quite a bit more. ​The Blaenavon Industrial Landscape was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2000.

Must see places!

It's a National Coal Museum and the most popular attraction within the Blaenavon World Heritage Site and a huge part of past. In 1983 it opened as a museum and is now known around the world, especially after winning the Gulbenkian Prize for museum of the year in 2005. You can go 300ft (90m) underground! Something not to be missed.


Big Pit


Iron Works

Blaenavon Ironworks is the most historically significant feature in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Blaenavon Industrial Landscape. It began production in 1789 and is the best-preserved blast furnace complex of its period! They host regular events there all year around so check what's happening there if you're visiting.

 Twitter @BlaenavonIron

Blaenavon Workman's Hall

The history of the Workmen’s Hall dates back to the 1880s, when meetings were held to canvass support for a place where workers could meet to socialise, read, discuss the issues of the day and play games.


Today, the Workmen’s Hall offers a contemporary digital cinema, concert space in the auditorium and snooker and table tennis facilities.  It is also the home of Blaenavon Community Museum and many groups and societies, as well as host to conferences and meetings. For many years, Blaenavon Workmen’s Hall has been at the heart of the community, and the current Board and dedicated group of volunteers are working to ensure that community is back at the heart of the Hall!


Blaenavon's Heritage Railway

Blaenavon's Heritage Railway runs for 3.5 miles through the Blaenavon World Heritage site on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park. We operate steam and heritage diesel services on weekends and bank holidays between April and September, together with selected Wednesdays during July and August. We also offer a range of special events throughout the year, including our Halloween Ghost Trains and Steam Santa Specials!


Blaenavon Town Council

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