Taking stock from the rain

You can always rely on the welsh weather to resort to its semi-permanent state of overcast and rain. So on days like these, what do you do?

Although the weather can be dicey at times, Wales is full of heritage, hard labour and heartfelt communities. One of the best things about Wales (in my opinion) is the many historic sites, museums and attractions you can visit.

I could ramble on for ages about all the local attractions I have been to, and what makes them great! But, I hadn’t actually visited one that’s in the heart of where I live. I knew it was there, I just never visited. Until one fateful day, when I needed to take shelter from the rain.

The Ebbw Vale Steelworks museum shares its space with the General Offices & Gwent Archives.

The building itself is impressive, I drive past it regularly and admire the building externally, but I was in for a surprise internally as well.

It was so grande! The detail in the interior was amazing, from exposed brickwork, large wooden doors, a mosiac style floor, tiled walls, with loads of light pouring through large bay windows or skylights. It really felt like an important, statement building, and I guess it was and still is.

I continued down this corridor to the small section of the building that was designated to the steelworks museum. Entering the space it was filled with photos galore on the walls, it was superb! I don’t know about you but there’s something about B&W photos of old, so static, yet dramatic. Soon I was greeted by a wonderful man, who lost no time in showing me around. Not only did he point me to exhibits, but he regaled me with facts, insights, stories and helped me paint such a picture in my mind of the community that once lived, breathed and worked the Ebbw Vale Steelworks, it made me wish that I could spend hours listening to his tales of the past.

The steelworks museum is a treasure trove of artifacts, trinkets, historical evidence, pictures, video and paintings. Honestly, at times I didn’t know where best to start.

It became apparent to me halfway through my visit that I wasn’t going to be able to take in everything on this one visit, and would just have to come back and visit again. So I settled on admiring some paintings and aerial pictures of the steelworks.

In a sense, my mind was blown. I didn’t grow up in Ebbw Vale, I moved here. So I know of the Steelworks, the demolishing and then regeneration through the festival park, but to see the scale of the place in pictures and paintings, really threw me. I desperately wanted to be transported back in time to see it all for myself. And I guess, that is the point of these museums, to give you glimpses into the past, to fill you with wonder and amazement.

What started out as a means to take shelter from the rain, turned into a very enlightening and entertaining visit, one which I will definitely be making again. (And hopefully next time, I will capture it with a full battery and who knows, perhaps interview the man I spoke to so that I can record his fascinating stories.)

So if your in Ebbw Vale, whether visiting or live there, and you love a bit of history, enjoy grande buildings, old photos, paintings, trinkets, artifacts or just happen to be taking shelter from the rain. I can recommend a visit to Ebbw Vale Steelworks Museum.

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