In December 2000 UNESCO declared the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape as a World Heritage Site, stating “The area around Blaenavon bears exceptional testimony to 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 be seen, including coal and iron mines, quarries, a primitive railway system, furnaces, the homes of workers, and the social infrastructure of their community.”

    Blaenavon is located in South East Wales in between Pontypool and Abergavenny and lies at the head of the Afon Lwyd valley. The landscape is one of the most preserved of its kind, its industrial workings and tram-roads that traverse the wild heather clad landscape are still in evidence today. Much of the town has remained unchanged, with traditional mineworkers cottages, shops, churches, chapels and public houses set in the side of the Welsh valley.

    The ironworks started production in 1789, and it was the second largest in Wales, and one of the largest in the world. Thomas Hill, who lived at Dennis Hall in Amblecote, a local banker and industrialist, was the leading partner in the venture, and was joined by Thomas Hopkins, another Staffordshire ironmaster, and by Benjamin Pratt of Oldswinford.

    Adjacent to the ironworks stands Engine Row, these two cottages werre built in a terrace, and are typical of workers cottages found in the Midlands. One of the cottages has been furnished to suggest the home of a foreman. Along with Engine row, Stack Square was built for the workers and their families, giving an insight into industrial housing of that period, again with a Midlands style, and was recently featured in the BBC 4 television series Coalhouse.

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