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OPEN COUNTRY
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Open Country
Sat  6.10 - 6.35am
Thurs 1.30 - 2.00pm (rpt)
Local people making their corner of rural Britain unique
This week
Saturday 8th September 2007
Listen to this programme in full
The River Towy
Richard Uridge visits Blaenavon in South Wales, the cradle of the industrial revolution, to find out how coal mining and iron production affected the landscape.
Richard visits Blaenavon in the South Wales valleys this week, an area transformed by coal mining and iron production at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. When Big Pit closed, the population was largely unemployed and the landscape was left pitted by slag heaps and scarred by open cast mining. Richard goes down Big Pit and talks to Bill Morgan, who's 98 and remembers working underground when he was a young man. Mary Williams has lived in the same street in Blaenavon for 72 years; she says the community was devastated when the mining stopped in 1980 and it still hasn't recovered. But Richard also discovers the area is a World Heritage Site because of its influence on modern society. Standing at Keeper's Pond, overlooking the Black Mountains, he realises the history of the hills and valleys is both beautiful and brutal - a past which has left the marks of a complex mix of agricultural and industrial life.
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