The Blaenavon Story

The Blaenavon Story is a testimony to human endeavour. It tells the story of the hundreds of migrant families who travelled to the area in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and helped shape this historic town and the dramatic landscape. From industrious ironmasters and entrepreneurs to the people who toiled beneath the ground or worked so hard within the home, the Blaenavon Story encompasses a range of human experiences through time.

The Blaenavon experience spans a period of great change in the valleys of south Wales. Politically, socially, culturally, economically and physically the area was radically transformed during the nineteenth century as the region became the most important producer of iron, coal and steel in the world.

Blaenavon’s is a global story. In addition to exporting coal, iron and steel, the town sent people and ideas across the globe. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries many Blaenavon people emigrated to distant lands, taking with them their skills and experience. And it was at Blaenavon, during the 1870s, that two young cousins, Gilchrist and Thomas, discovered a revolutionary method to produce steel, transforming the steel industries of Europe and America.

Here are a series of articles that will allow you to explore these topics in more depth.

Blaenavon Town

Industries of Blaenavon

  • Blaenavon Ironworks; A brief history - From the works establishment by Hill, Hopkins and Pratt to the conservation of the site by Cadw.
  • The Blaenavon Ironmasters - Discover more about the families that invested in Blaenavon and how they supported their workers.
  • Thomas Hill’s Tram Road - An innovative tram road built to link Blaenavon with the canal with inclines and the longest tunnel built for a horse drawn tram road.
  • Gilchrist Thomas - Discover why Sidney Gilchrist Thomas and his cousin Percy were paid $250,000 by Andrew Carnegie.
  • Cwmavon - A satellite forge that was part of the Blaenavon Estate.
  • Big Pit - The story from when the first shaft was sunk to 200ft by the Blaenavon Company in 1860.

Religion in Blaenavon

If you are interested in researching any of these topics further then this Bibliography and Suggested Further Reading will form a good starting point.