Page last updated at 18:24 GMT, Friday, 15 May 2009 19:24 UK

3,000,000th visitor for museum

Pictured are Class 3/4 holding commemorative souvenir with Miner Guides, Des Harris and Mike Parfitt
The special visitor was among this group of school children

A former coal mine which opened as a museum in 1983 has welcomed its three millionth visitor.

A pupil in a group of Year 3 and 4 pupils from Ty Newydd Primary School in Newbridge was the landmark visitor to Big Pit at Blaenavon in Torfaen.

The museum was a working pit until 1980 and took on its present role three years later when miners became guides.

The museum's keeper said the milestone was important, marking the increased success over the last ten years.

Big Pit attracts around 160,000 visitors each year and it said many factors have contributed to the increase in popularity.

These included the Welsh Assembly Government backed free entry policy introduced in 2001 and subsequent multi-million pound improvement to the visitor experience.

Surface buildings

Peter Walker, Keeper of Big Pit said: "Reaching this milestone is important to Big Pit because it marks the increased success over the last ten years, where we have been consistently exceeding visitor records and winning awards for our exceptional visitor experience.

"The underground tour has always been very popular, but the recent Welsh Assembly Government and Heritage Lottery Fund sponsored redevelopment has given us surface buildings and exhibitions to be equally proud of.

"This development has helped us achieve such accolades as winning the Gulbenkian Prize for Museum of the Year, being named the UK's best interactive museum and Wales' favourite national treasure," Mr Walker added.

Big Pit is one of seven museums operated by National Museum Wales, celebrating its 25th anniversary last year.

Blaenavon, which is home to Big Pit, was made a World Heritage Site in 2000 in recognition of the role it played in the industrial revolution.

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