This historic mine first opened in 1812 and closed in 1979. It is located about a 45 minute drive from Cardiff. Admission is free. Tour guides tend to be former miners. Work here was extremely difficult in the early days – children as young as 5 years old worked in the mine – up to 12 hour shifts opening and closing air ventilation doors in complete darkness.
There used to be many coal mines in Wales but there are no more mines of this type active.
Carbon monoxide can be a real killer in mines and 0.5% is a lethal dose. The term, ‘Canary in a Coalmine” is real; by law coal mines here were required to keep at least 2 canaries on the surface in case of a mining disaster. Canaries are affected by carbon monoxide much quicker then humans.
The museum above ground is highly worth visiting – and highlights not only this particular coal mine but the overall history of coal mining in the UK. It covers strikes, mining disasters, miners, equipment and more. The original showers, medical facility and other items used by the miners can also be viewed.
Tours are guided and extremely informative. Visitors descend into the mine via the original mining shaft cart.
For more information visit: www.museumwales.ac.uk/bigpit