Hauntingly preserved as a protected historic site, the Blaenavon Ironworks have been cold for over a century but while the furnaces and bellows were working it was one of the world’s leaders in iron processing, even creating a whole new method of production.
The area’s natural iron deposits began being worked at the site in 1789 giving the local economy a much needed boost, and it wasn’t long before they would bring world wide recognition. Using coal and steam power, technologies that were cutting-edge at the time, to fuel the smelting the ironworks earned South Wales a reputation as one of the leading producers of iron on the globe by 1800. The large industrial site and its job opportunities attracted people from all over the region who wanted to get a piece of the pie. Unfortunately every boom has its bust and when the hammer fell on the ironworks.
Due to fluctuating economic conditions, the ironworks fortunes began to decline and ownership of the site began to change hands. Unfortunately, even a change to steel production could not stop the factory’s slow fall from glory and in 1904 the fires were finally staunched and the once venerable ironworks were closed. After this final closing, the facilities were used sporadically to create ammunition or used simply as storage.
Today the works are protected as excellent examples of historic industrial architecture and recently gained a newfound notoriety as the setting of the historic LARP reality show Coal House on the BBC. The overgrown stone furnaces and other imposing constructions on the site can be explored as well as the cast dorms from the show, which seems to be the major draw to the site.