It stands as a beacon to our coal mining industry that inspired the great minds of Brunel and Stephenson, and now the Welsh Mining Experience has been awarded for the way it inspires learning and curiosity among future generations.
It has joined some of the biggest education providers in the UK, including Chester Zoo, Windsor Castle and London’s V&A Museum by securing the 2019 Sandford Award for education.
Judges saw how children and their teachers enjoy an “outstanding learning experience” at the Welsh Mining Experience at Rhondda Heritage Park, benefitting from a range of opportunities that “reinforces children’s sense of their role as global citizens and their community’s important contribution to the world.”
The men who once worked as miners and now lead the Black Gold Underground Tour – a staple of any visit to the Welsh Mining Experience – were commended for their ability to share personal stories and memories, answer questions and provide a “deeply moving insight into life underground and the wider issues that affected the community.”
Practical sessions including getting the washing done the way Grandma would have done it – with no electric washing machine or tumble dryer; measuring the iconic chimney stack using old techniques, and creating stories and art based on children’s experiences at the museum and the Valleys landscape all impressed the judges.
Councillor Ann Crimmings, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Leisure and Heritage Services, said: “The Welsh Mining Experience has been crafted from the remains of the Lewis Merthyr Colliery, which was just one of hundreds of pits that operated at a time when the coal of Rhondda Cynon Taf powered the world.
“That industry shaped our passion, our communities and our landscapes and also led to the choirs, bands and fierce pride that still exist in roads and streets the length and breadth of our county borough.
“To have history brought back to life at the Welsh Mining Experience and also to use our natural and industrial surroundings to inspire further learning, curiosity and citizenship is so important.
“We welcome schools and groups from across the UK and beyond to the heart of the former coal fields and provide them with an experience that is fun and nostalgic, but also highly educational.”
Judges noted how pleased teachers were with their visit, the range of sessions offered to children and how well they tied in with subjects they were learning in the classroom.
The link of the coal mining industry to historical figures and events, such as Aneurin Bevan and the creation of the NHS, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the sinking of the Titanic and the arrival of Italian immigrants to the Valleys all demonstrated the huge impact the efforts of the children’s ancestors had on shaping the world they now live in.
Judges were also impressed with the use of real artefacts from RCT’s industry and society over the last 200 years to bring history to life, complementing interactive exhibitions and displays.
Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion Services, concluded: “We are proud to be able to bring our fascinating history back to life in a range of ways to inspire young minds. Our school trips to the Welsh Mining Experience remain hugely popular and we enjoy welcoming classes eager to explore how our epic industrial past shapes the world we live in today.”
Find out more
Download the full report
Posted on Monday 7th October 2019