There is no set path to follow around the exhibition areas. Visitors are free to meander through the exhibits exploring the exciting features that are around every corner.
The first exhibits to meet the eye are a Stone Age axe and, a particularly fine example of, a Bronze Age Palstave (axe) which were found at Llanerch Padern Cwmtillery. These are set in murals depicting how they were used.
Next you will see a Roman and Celt locked in a fight to the death!
Roman and Silurian (Celtic) kitchens are also displayed, these were found near Caerleon and Caerwent.
A case of Roman pottery from Prysg Field Caerleon accompanies these displays.
There is an exhibit of a farmhouse kitchen with a lady in Welsh national costume representing Tyr-Nicholas, the farm which stood on the site of Cwmtillery Colliery as described by the coal owner John Russell. Also there is a farm outhouse building with a display of farming tools, cheese press and a Tudor style doorframe from the Little Gwryhd Farm Cwmtillery.
The section on myths and legends has the bloodstone from the Cefin Mountain, a dish shaped ironstone which, when filled with rainwater, leaves a reddish stain which gave rise to the myths of human Druids sacrifices in the area. This is accompanied by murals that depict fairies and hobgoblins of Arael Mountain, as told in the stories of the Old Prophet Edmund Jones in the 1600s.
The Washhouse exhibit contains examples of types of flat irons, washing machines and tools of yesteryear. A widow can be seen taking in washing, cleaning for other people and selling faggots and peas to make ends meet.
A central display shows toys and games from bygone ages with interactive exhibits, used to keep children entertained as they learn about their heritage.
The railway exhibit using the original Signalling Track Diagram, instrument shelf and desk from Aberbeeg Signal Box is incorporated in a setting together with sound effects. A scene of Abertillery Railway Station has three display cases of railway.
Warwills (Ward Williams) Iron Foundry exhibit depicts a foundry worker with tools and iron products. This together with The Works (Abertillery Tinworks) provides an insight into Abertillery’s iron industry background.
The World War l exhibit is set into a trench overlooking the battlefield. In the case are a number of interesting items such as, a trumpet picked up on the battlefield and a Prussian spiked helmet.
From there you move to World War ll, on to the Home Front exhibition which has an authentic Anderson Shelter complete with sound effects. A Home Guard Officer, his wife, a W.V.S. Welfare lady, and an evacuee girl, again in authentic dress, can be seen in this area.
Grannies Cupboard displays ladies clothing from the Victorian and Edwardian era. Fur stoles, Perileans, Shawls, purses and handbags.
Webs Brewery display is a case in the setting of an interior of the brewery, a Webb’s trolley, bottles, and other objects relating to this once important industry set at Aberbeeg.
The Bon Marchė Shop consists of a replica shop counter with display cases and shelving. Victorian and WWll period pieces are depicted all around the shop, remembering food and clothing shortages and the introduction of rationing.
The mining display starts with a diorama case showing the prehistoric period and its plants and animals. This leads on through to fossils found in local mines and on to the many uses of coal.
Mining the mining gallery depicts an underground scene with a collier hewing coal while his butty, a young boy, fills a tram with lump coal using a curling box. Around them lie paraphernalia of mining tools and objects. Other cases display objects that tell the story of King Coal from its early beginnings, with disasters and strife, up until its demise after the 1984-85 miners strike.
Miner’s kitchen shows a miner having a bath in front of the fire while his son, exhausted from his shift, awaits his dinner. Outside is the Ty-Bach (toilet, complete with sound effects).
Click here to read local hero Arthur Bobbett's story.
Last but not least, there is a Sports display with Rugby, Cricket, Tennis, Quoits and other sports that were and are a feature of “Valley Life”.
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