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The Rhondda Heritage Park


History & Archeology





Ex-miners act as tour guidesIn July 1989 the Rhondda Heritage Park Visitor Centre opened to the public in the stores building of the old Lewis Merthyr colliery. It provides a unique setting for the temporary exhibition galleries, gift shop and restaurant. When the Centre opened it was only introduced to provide a taste of things to come for the local and regional communities, but as more than 50% of its visitors came from outside Wales, the Visitor Centre became a permanent feature at the Park.

During 1989 and 1990, work continued on the Lewis Merthyr site to create the first stage of 'Black Gold - the Story of Coal', in the refurbished and restored pithead buildings. This opened in May 1991 using state of the art audio-visual and exhibition techniques to tell the story of people who lived and worked in the Rhondda. In May 1993, the next stage of development at the Park opened with the action-packed children's play area, 'Trefor & Bertie's Energy Zone'. Exploring the energy cycle in a unique, fun and educational way The Energy Zone provides a new dimension at the Park. The extended Visitor Centre opened in 1994 includes and an indoor 'village street', artefact exhibition galleries, the temporary exhibition gallery, restaurant and gift shop.

The latest stage of the development is the new underground tour, A Shift in Time opened to the public in July 1994. A Shift in Time includes a cage ride to 'Pit Bottom', guided tour through the underground roadways of the Lewis Merthyr colliery pre-mechanisation and the working coalface. At the end of the journey you are transported on an amazing simulated ride that takes you through dark and twisting tunnels on an unforgettable route back to the surface.

Showing how a safety lamp worksThe tour attempts to recreate the experience of a working mine. However, for Health and Safety reasons only part of the tour is underground, the rest is simulated. Please allow at least 11/2 hours for the tour. The story continues in the Fan House where you can learn about the role of women in the community and the cultural social heritage of the valleys. The famous choirs and brass bands, the chapels and carnivals are all brought vividly to life.

The Energy Zone is an action-packed children's play area where they can climb, slide, swing and mine for their own energy in Castle Coal.

Afterwards visitors can walk through the main street of Hafod to see some of the village's buildings dating from the 1890s and the early part of the 19th century. The effect of subsidence is very marked, but considering the fact that the valley floor at Trehafod dropped 14 feet in the time the mine was working it is perhaps surprising that anything in the village is left standing.

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