Blaenavon Ironworks

Blaenavon Ironworks is an industrial heritage site in South Wales. It is part of a World Heritage site called the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape. The landscape includes the ironworks, a coal pit, a railway and the entire landscape around these sites.  You can stand on a hilltop in the area and everywhere you can see evidence of mines, quarries and spoil heaps.

The site is quite small and consist of three blast furnaces, casting sheds and some workers cottages. The tall structure on the right lifted  cast iron to a railway which then carried to a canal.

The photograph below shows a model of the ironworks.  There is an interesting and informative museum in  one of the cottages.

Fuel and iron ore were tipped into the top of a blast furnace and molten iron drawn out through the bottom to be cast into pigs [bars of iron]. Air was blown into the furnace to increase its temperature. The furnace would be lined with ceramic brick to withstand the high temperatures.
A drawing of an ironworks of the same era

When the Blaenavon ironworks closed the facing stones from the furnaces were removed and used to build a church. 
The sheds in the photograph below are in front of the blast furnaces. Sand moulds were built on the floors of the sheds. When a blast furnace was tapped the hot iron ran into the moulds and cooled to form the iron 'pigs'.  

The work would have been very dangerous and the key workers were well paid.
Some of the workers housing are shown below. Some of the cottages have been restored inside to recreate the living conditions of the time.
The cottages I visited had two downstairs rooms and two bedrooms upstairs.  This would have been very high quality housing for the times. In the cotton mills of the times even the most enlightened employers usually only provided one room for an entire family.  I suspect these cottages were reserved for the most highly skilled workers. 
 One of the bedrooms.
The works shop.
Blaenavon was one of the key sites in the Industrial Revolution.  When so much of our industrial heritage has been lost it is good to see that somebody is making the effort to preserve the ironworks. 

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