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Arts and crafts in Blaenau Gwent

Blaenau Gwent is in South Wales. It has a population of around 69,000 and covers approximately 11,000 hectares. Here is a list of nearby or neighbouring counties: Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Powys, Torfaen.

Blaenau Gwent is a county borough located to the south of the county of Powys. The Industrial Revolution saw the local population and economy grow, with the expansion of heavy industries such as coal mining, iron and steel production, though industry declined during the twentieth century. The largest town in Blaenau Gwent is Ebbw Vale, where the main council offices are based. The town is also home to the counties largest theatre, the Beaufort Theatre which has served as a venue for performing arts events such as drama, dance and music. From the late 1920s Quakers living in the market town of Brynmawr tried to address the issue of increasing unemployment by setting up projects such as the training of local people to make furniture. Their designs were inspired by the arts and crafts movement and although the company they established closed in 1940, the quality and popularity of the furniture showed that with sufficient support there could be sources of income other than the declining heavy industries. The Guardian is a twenty metre tall sculpture constructed of steel, which was commissioned to commemorate the miners who lost their lives in the Six Bells Colliery Disaster. Unveiled on the fiftieth anniversary in 2010, on the site of the former colliery near the town of Abertillery, the statue is an iconic symbol and has been compared to the Angel of the North.

The recently renovated Bedwellty House was built in Tredegar during the early nineteenth century, using wealth generated by the towns iron works. The grounds in which the house is situated have been a public park since the early twentieth century and those looking for fresh air and picturesque landscapes could also visit nearby Parc Bryn Bach. Established and paid for by local workers, the Tredegar Medical Aid Society became well known across the country and was the model upon which the British National Health Service was based, championed by people including Aneurin Bevan who was born in Tredegar in 1897. Abertillery District Museum has exhibits from local history dating back to the Stone Age and Bronze Age, as well as Roman and Celtic artefacts, murals of ancient myths and legends and items from the years of industrialisation. There are displays of pottery, toys, tools and period costumes, as well as recreations of scenes from the lives of the people who lived and worked in the area during previous centuries. Other attractions in Blaenau Gwent include the Festival Park Owl Sanctuary, the Cwmtillery Lakes and in the north of the county part of the Brecon Beacons National Park.