A Town of Lost Hopes and a Future from the Past?
The decline of the Welsh coal and steel industries in the 20th century, led to thousands of people leaving Blaenavon to seek work elsewhere. Economic and social change meant that Blaenavon suffered, with many shops, businesses, public houses and chapels closing. By the end of the twentieth century, some of the town’s historic buildings were demolished and many shops and buildings were boarded-up.
In 2000, the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape was recognised as being of global importance and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since inscription, attempts have been made to revive the local economy by promoting tourism and restoring historic buildings. New businesses have been attracted to the town, which is once again a place where people want to live, visit and invest!
The area around Blaenavon bears eloquent and exceptional testimony to the pre-eminence of South Wales as the world’s major producer of iron and coal in the 19th century. All the necessary elements can be seen in situ – coal and ore mines, quarries, a primitive railway system, furnaces, the homes of the workers, and the social infrastructure of their community.