The Big Pit, Blaenavon, Wales

 

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After trying four times to get into the Big Pit, we finally made it. (The other times the tours were full or closed.) It was worth persevering! This is a big underground coal mine in Blaenavon, Wales that has been kept and made into a museum. Legend has it that my great grandpa John Bowen and my great, great grandpa Lewis Bowen worked in this mine, so it has special meaning to me! Here are photos of John Bowen (1841-1922) and Lewis Bowen (1815-1894).

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Here is the Big Pit Museum the day we visited this week, a bit rainy!

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We went in and were given helmets  with a headlamp and an oxygen mask on a waist belt.

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Then we all got into the cage shown here behind the school children on the next tour. It took us down 300 feet to the underground mine area.

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We didn’t get to take cameras down because of the risk of sparking, so here are two photos I found that show the feel of our tour underground. We had to duck to not hit our heads on the tunnel ceiling. Water was running on the side. True darkness when we turned off all of our lamps.

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Walking through the tunnels, I kept thinking of those miners of yesteryear and what it must have been like. ‘Such hard, dirty, back-breaking, dangerous work, filling their lungs with coal dust, ridding their lives of sunshine for most of the week , with little pay and a lot of risk. (Notice this miner’s Davy Lamp hanging from his belt, used to test for methane gas. ‘Bought one for a souvenir!)

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One of the retired coal miner tour guides, who sang “Ave Maria” like an opera singer as he worked! (Lewis and John were singers too, musicians who played the violin, organ, cornet…. The Welsh have music in their blood, they say!)

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Our Welsh retired coal miner tour guide and a fellow tourist, born in Merthyr Tydfil and now living in………Utah!

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They used to use canaries to test the methane gas.

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Our view as we came out of the mine buildings–see that beautiful rainbow over the lush green Welsh landscape?

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We left with a greater connection with John and Lewis Bowen and an appreciation for their life and work. ‘So glad they met  LDS missionaries and were baptised in 1852 and were able to immigrate and start a new life in Utah in 1862/1863. …………………Cheerio!

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