The first time I went to the Rhondda Valleys, I was about 8 years old on a visit to the Rhondda Heritage Park and coal mine.
I remember specific parts of that trip and it’s always remained one of my favourite memories. It was my favourite class in school and with my favourite teacher who knew loads about the area and the history of it. My dad was a coal worker (not miner) for a long time, and I found it fascinating connecting it all together.
Of course, that was 22 years ago, and I didn’t remember much, so when I went to visit my Dad, who now lives in the Valleys, we took a little trip to Rhondda Heritage Park and it was so much more than I remembered!
As it was midweek, we got a sort of private tour. The tour is given by an ex miner, who actually worked at this mine. It was so interesting hearing stories and the history of the mine from somebody that was actually there. There are different people giving the tours, but this particular guy was a brilliant guide and made it a great trip.
We got to go into the mine, which no longer operates, and see how it used to work. We also got to learn about the history of Welsh mining and how they did the work. Some of it’s saddening as it’s hard to imagine people in those conditions, but the miner seemed to have fond memories of the place too.
It was pitch black in the mine so I’m surprised I managed to get any pictures, let alone the odd decent one (had no flash!)
Out of the mine, there are set up olde shops to look around in with machinery, old records, and signs etc. It’s amazing to be able to compare it to today.
Even if you don’t fancy the mine itself, which I appreciate not everyone would, the gift shop is so worth a visit for cute and meaningful Welsh gifts. There are loads of coal ornaments made with Welsh coal (see mine below!), gorgeous jewellery and homewares made by Welsh creators, handmade love spoons and more. For special occasions, like Mother’s Day, they have plenty of great specialist gifts too.
I had such a lovely time on the trip, learned a lot (that I’ll actually remember this time!), and got to spend some quality time with my Dad.
Do you like learning about the history of the places you visit? Have you ever visited a coal mine?