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Historic Buildings

Big Pit National Coal Museum

The 'Winder'

You can see and interact with various buildings and machinery around the Museum site that would have been crucial to the mining operations at Big Pit.

The Winding Engine house or ‘the winder’, as it is known, raises and lowers the cages carrying coal, men and materials up and down the shaft.

Though the engine is over fifty years old, it has been fully modernised with safety systems and computers controlling and monitoring its operation.

The buildings around The Blacksmiths' Yard are some of the oldest on site, dating from the 1870s. The left-hand wing is the fitting and welding shop which is still used by Big Pit’s blacksmith today. In a working colliery blacksmiths made and repaired anything and everything - horseshoes, drams, rail junctions, pipes, spanners and hammers.

Timber and other materials needed to work the mine were stored in the Stockyard. Timber brought in by train would be off-loaded here, ready for use underground. Some of the larger timbers needed to be cut down to size in the Saw Mill, which is still used for the same purpose today.

The Mortar Mill is housed in the same building and used to mix the mortar for building work on the surface and underground.

The Explosives (or ‘powder’) Magazine was always built away from other buildings in case of an accidental ignition of its contents. It is designed so that any explosion would blow up through the roof or the back wall, away from the main parts of the site.

The Fan House, located at the rear of the site, is one of the most important buildings at any coal mine. The ventilation system brings oxygen into the mine, removes or dilutes unwanted gases, dust and fumes and provides a cooler and dryer environment for the miners to work in.