OUR TOWN

Welcome to Blaenavon, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) World Heritage Site and among the most historically and geographically fascinating towns in the UK.

At almost 420m above sea level, it is a contender for the title of Wales’s highest town.  The hills to the west of the town contain the source of the Afon Lwyd, the main river running through the county borough of Torfaen, South Wales’s easternmost valley. 


The name Blaenavon 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.  In the words of UNESCO:

‘The area around Blaenavon is evidence of the pre-eminence of South Wales as the world's major producer of iron and coal in the 19th century.  All the necessary elements can still be seen - coal and ore mines, quarries, a primitive railway system, furnaces, workers' homes, and the social infrastructure of their community.

‘Taking all these elements together, [Blaenavon] provides one of the prime areas in the world where the full social, economic and technological process of industrialisation through iron and coal production can be studied and understood.’  http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/984

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, one of only two Welsh World Heritage Sites along with the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd.  The third Welsh WHS is the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which was inscribed in 2009.

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BLAENAVON IRONWORKS

Blaenavon Ironworks is the most historically significant feature in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Blaenavon Industrial Landscape. Having begun production in 1789, the ironworks is the best-preserved blast furnace complex of its period and type in the world and one of the most important monuments to have survived from the early part of the Industrial Revolution.

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BIG PIT - NATIONAL COAL MUSEUM

Big Pit is an award-winning national mining museum and one of Wales’s leading tourist attractions, welcoming more than 150,000 visitors each year.

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Blaenavon may be small in terms of the number of shops and services it offers, but punches well above its weight when it comes to quality.
Broad Street and its vicinity has a number of niche traders alongside the sort of shops you’d expect to see on the local high street - but it also features several award-winning businesses.

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BLAENAVON WORKMEN'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.

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INDUSTRIAL LANDSCAPE

UNESCO inscribed Blaenavon Industrial Landscape as a World Heritage Site in 2000. The Ironworks and Big Pit - together with the wider landscape with its relicts of mineral exploitation, manufacturing, transport and settlements – all tell the story of the iron and coal industry in South Wales in the 19th century.

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WORLD HERITAGE CENTRE

Blaenavon World Heritage Centre is housed in the beautifully restored former St Peter’s Church School. The school was founded in 1816 by Sarah Hopkins Ironmasters to provide free education for children whose parents worked for the Blaenavon Company.

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COMMUNITY MUSEUM

Based in the magnificent Workmen’s Hall and run by a team of volunteers, Blaenavon Community Museum celebrates the proud cultural heritage of Blaenavon and the South Wales coalfield in general.

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Blaenavon’s Heritage Railway steam and diesel locomotives run at the highest altitude of any standard gauge preserved railway in England and Wales.

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GARN LAKES

We see every challenge as an opportunity, and this initiative helps us ensure that our partners are better prepared to manage the unique situations they find themselves in. We are invested in an innovative approach that empowers our community and delivers the support they need, when they need it.

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ESSENTIAL SERVICES

The Town Council has purchased three defibrillators (AEDs) for public use, which are housed in a number of central premises in the town centre.  These are The Co-operative, Ivor Street, tel 01495 790284; the Lion Hotel, Broad Street, 01495 792516; and Forgeside Welfare Hall.

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101 High St, Blaenavon NP4 9PT