National Coal Mining Museum, Wakefield
Easily accessible from Manchester in a minibus, this unique museum provides an exciting day out for the whole family. You will have the opportunity to travel 140 metres underground down one of the country’s oldest working mines. It is situated in a rural area and provides a fascinating insight into the tough lives of miners through the years. As well as taking an underground tour there are lots of other activities to participate in (whatever the weather) such as art and photography exhibitions, a delightful outdoor nature trail, play areas and picnic areas.
Meet a Miner Tour
After putting on your hard hat and grabbing a battery lamp, you will be transported via a cage 140m underground to begin your journey back in time, led by ‘former miner guides’ who will describe to you the harsh realities of coal mining through the centuries. You will learn about the different ages of mining from the Victorian era – when men, women and children all worked underground – to the days of pit ponies and modern machinery. The guide will also tell you all about his working life and experiences.
Go Mining! Tour
The new Go Mining! underground tour has been introduced as part of the Museum’s recent £2.7 million development project, which has allowed the Museum to conserve the historic mine shafts and extend the underground tours.
This tour is truly hands-on and allows you to explore the genuine former mine-workings at Caphouse Colliery. You will discover life as it would have been for families in the early 1800s and experience the genuine sights, sounds and smells of a working coal mine! You will also learn how horses were once kept underground and will have the opportunity to feed and muck out the horses in the underground stable area.
In the days before fans were used for ventilation, a fire would have been lit at the bottom of the shaft, causing air to be drawn down into the pit to provide ventilation for the miners. An original example of such a shaft (called a furnace shaft) is now covered by 3m wide toughened glass, so that it will be preserved for years to come. Visitors can look down the shaft or even stand on top of it, looking into the 140m deep black hole! You can also gaze up from the bottom if you go underground and look up at the pinpoint of light at the surface!
When you’ve had enough excitement, you can visit the café and the gift shop which sells a wide range of models made from coal!