BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC News in video and audio
Last Updated: Monday, 15 October 2007, 06:45 GMT 07:45 UK
Coal House families back to 1927
The families outside the miners' cottages in Blaenavon
The families are turning their back on modern living for four weeks
Three Welsh families are swapping modern life for one mirroring life in 1927 to see how it would have been in a mining community of the past.

It is part of a BBC Wales reality series and will see the men and boys work at the Blaentillery Drift Mine - the last working mine of its kind.

While the women will remain in tiny miners' cottages in Blaenavon during the day looking after the children.

Coal House will be broadcast from next Monday.

All three families will have their work cut out during their month-long stay.

The men and boys over 14 will face long walks to work over mountainous terrain in all weather, before a long day at the drift mine.

Back home the women will have to keep the children fed, watered and clean without the benefit of supermarkets, washing machines, ready meals or cars.

More than 150 families applied for the series and 12 of them were tested on initiative, stamina and team-working as well as undergoing psychological tests to find out how they might cope with the stresses of life in the cottages.

The three families who triumphed are welcoming the challenge of downsizing to the extreme.

They include a university professor, a coal merchant, builder, carpenter, and a lorry driver.

The Griffiths family
The Griffiths are the only Welsh-speaking family

Joe and Annabel Cartwright, from Penarth in the Vale of Glamorgan, a professor and astrophysicist, say they are excited about stepping into history rather than just looking at it.

Daughters Gwen and Kitty, who are 12 and 11, say they will miss their West Highland Terrier Bertie, as well as social networking websites Bebo and MSN.

Debra Griffiths, from Cardigan, will celebrate her 40th birthday there with husband Cerdin, 46, and children Steffan, 13, Angharad, 12 and Gethin, eight.

The Griffiths are the only Welsh-speaking family taking part.

They say they find they do not communicate as much as they would like, and they want to use this opportunity to spend quality time together as a family - a common theme among the Coal House families.

The Phillips family from Cowbridge
Washing for six children will be a worry for Stephanie Phillips

The third family taking part are the Phillipses from Cowbridge, and with six children of whom the youngest are still both in nappies, Stephanie thinks she will miss her washing machine most.

Both Stephanie and husband Richie, 33, whose great-grandfather was killed in a mining disaster, say they would do anything to escape from listening to modern celebrity gossip.

BBC Wales Executive Producer Martyn Ingram said:"When these adventurous families enter the cottages they will effectively enter a time-travel bubble, going back in time and stepping into a real life history - and the real beauty of it is that the rest of the country can share their experiences through television, radio and online."

Coal House will air three evenings a week - Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays - on BBC One Wales and on BBC Two, beginning 22 October.

Families vie for miners' TV show
01 Jul 07 |  South East Wales


Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific