Spring into heritage projects for Year of Legends
This Spring, several big initiatives to celebrate south Wales’ heritage will take place, ensuring that the valleys’ industrial heritage sites are well and truly on the tourism map.
The projects are being led by Torfaen County Borough Council on behalf of public, private and third sector partners and have received funding from Welsh Government via Visit Wales as part of the 2017 Year of Legends.
The Valleys that Changed the World is a partnership of heritage attractions in south Wales working together to promote and interpret the story of the region’s industrial past. It is an exciting step forward in encouraging more visitors to the area, demonstrating that the Valleys have a great mix that provides something for everyone – from underground experiences to fiery furnaces, from stately homes to workers’ terraces; from museums to miles of canals.
The Tumble Challenge is a cycle challenge already known among keen cyclists for its iconic climb. The aim of this project is to encourage road cyclists to come and stay in the region, download cycling routes and tackle the Tumble, which features on the Velothon Wales route.
Step Back in Time Walks will be three walks taking visitors through the Blaenavon World Heritage Site on 6th, 13th and 20th May. Visitors will meet costumed actors, such as Timothy McCarthy who they will meet in his cottage at Blaenavon Ironworks; Lewis Browning will accompany them on a walk through Blaenavon Heritage Town; and a woman worker will join them on a walk up to the Big Pit and across to Forgeside talking about the hardship of the women and children and the role they played in the industry.
For the Back to School Event we will be turning the clocks back on 29th April when the Blaenavon World Heritage Centre will become St Peter’s school (as it was then) – it opened as a school in 1816. Sarah Hopkins will greet visitors and ring the bell when class is starting. A school master will take lessons; children can play Victorian games in the playground as well as in the school and enjoy an authentic school dinner in the café.
A Genealogy Fayre on 22nd April will be looking to attract genealogy enthusiasts and people starting out in tracing their family history. They will be joined by special guest speaker Nick Barratt, researcher for BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?.
With additional trails added to the digital app, Blaenavon Digital Passport encourages visits to the Blaenavon World Heritage Site to explore the trails and find out about activities, events, accommodation and eating places.
Cllr Lewis Jones, as Exec Member for Tourism at Torfaen County Borough Council said: “The fascinating historic sites of the valleys, with a backdrop of stunning landscapes are a unique asset and an important element of the region’s wider tourism offering. Providing a real insight into different aspects of our rich heritage, we can captivate visitors and drive economic growth.”
The valleys of south Wales made a huge contribution to the industrialisation of the world we live in today. Our furnaces were the cradle of industrial invention and adaptation; our iron provided the ammunition aboard Nelson’s HMS Victory, while our copper protected its hull; our rails opened up the continents; our high-quality steam coal fuelled travel on land and sea; our tinplate transformed how we preserved food and drink, and made many household goods more affordable. All the time, this revolution was reshaping our landscape and our communities – creating heroes and villains, icons and ideologies.