Blaenavon

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Coordinates: 51°46′25″N 3°04′58″W / 51.77363°N 3.08278°W / 51.77363; -3.08278

Blaenavon
Welsh: Blaenafon
Blaenavon1.JPG
Blaenavon
Blaenavon is in the north of the district of Torfaen, in south east Wales
Blaenavon is in the north of the district of Torfaen, in south east Wales
Blaenavon
 Blaenavon shown within Torfaen
Area  17.83 km2 (6.88 sq mi) [1]
Population 6,055 [2]
    - Density  340 /km2 (880 /sq mi)
GSS code W04000760
OS grid reference SO 255 095
Community Blaenavon
Principal area Torfaen
Ceremonial county Gwent
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town PONTYPOOL
Postcode district NP4
Dialling code 01495
Police Gwent
Fire South Wales
Ambulance Welsh
EU Parliament Wales
UK Parliament Torfaen
Welsh Assembly Torfaen
List of places
UK
Wales
Torfaen
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Blaenavon Industrial Landscape
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Type Cultural
Criteria iii, iv
Reference 984
UNESCO region Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 2000 (24th Session)

Blaenavon (Welsh: Blaenafon) is a town and World Heritage Site in south eastern Wales, lying at the source of the Afon Lwyd north of Pontypool, within the boundaries of the historic county of Monmouthshire and the preserved county of Gwent. The town lies high on a hillside and has a population of 6,055. Blaenavon literally means "front of the river" or loosely "river's source" in the Welsh language.

Blaenavon is a community and electoral ward of Torfaen County Borough Council. It is also represented by Blaenavon Town Council.

History[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Blaenavon Ironworks.

Blaenavon grew around an ironworks[3] opened in 1788, part of which is now a museum. The steel-making and coal mining industries followed, boosting the town's population to over 20,000 at one time,[4] but since the ironworks closed in 1900 and the coal mine in 1980, the population has declined.

Attractions in the town include the Big Pit National Coal Museum (an Anchor Point of ERIH, The European Route of Industrial Heritage), Blaenavon Ironworks,[5] the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway, Blaenavon World Heritage Centre, Blaenavon Male Voice Choir and many historical walks through Blaenavon's mountains.

The Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway is a local tourist attraction. Blaenavon lost both of its passenger railway stations many years ago with Blaenavon High Level station closing as early as 1941 and the last train from Blaenavon (Low Level) to Newport via Pontypool Crane Street leaving in April 1962. Contrary to what is often remembered locally, the lower line had already been closed for more than a year before the notorious Beeching Axe came into effect. It was later disclosed that a number of rail passenger services within Monmouthshire were withdrawn in the early 1960s, not because they were doing particularly badly in financial terms, but because of severe rail congestion in the Newport area due to the amount of traffic coming from the then newly opened Llanwern steelworks.

Attempts were made in 2003 to turn around the town's image by introducing it as Wales' second "book town" (the first being Hay-on-Wye). However the project did not succeed.[6] This can be attributed to a combination of the town's remote location and the established competition from Hay. There are many thriving community groups within the town, including Future Blaenavon, which has helped to create a community garden at the bottom of the town.

Blaenavon is twinned with Coutras in France.

Time Team dig[edit]

The Channel 4 archaeology television programme Time Team came to Blaenavon during its February 2001 series to find "The Lost Viaduct" - "the world's first railway viaduct". This had been built in 1790, to be used by horse-drawn wagons to carry coal from the mines. Despite being about 40 metres long and 10 metres high, within about 25 years of its construction it had completely disappeared. But with no records of its demolition, the group was there to see what might remain of this structure. Eventually, during the mid to late afternoon of the final (third) day of the excavation, the team managed to uncover the top of the viaduct, the arched roof of which, under 12–15 metres of rubble and earth, was seemingly still standing. However, because it was so late on their last day, and for reasons of safety, they were unable to dig any further.

Notable people[edit]

See also Category:People from Blaenavon

Radio Presenter/Manager Gareth Sweeney (Bro Radio and Valleys Radio), notable broadway and film actor E. E. Clive, and international rugby union player Mark Taylor was born in Blaenavon. Ken Jones, rugby and Olympic athlete. John Perkins, capped by Wales at rugby. Terry Cobner, capped by Wales and British Lions at rugby union.

Gallery of Blaenavon photos[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]