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BOOK REVIEW Chris Barber, Exploring Blaenavon's Industrial Landscape: World Heritage Site (Blorenge Books, 2002), p/back, 220 pp., colour and b/w illustrations throughout. [Now in 2nd edition]. In the national, and even regional, consciousness, the town of Blaenavon has a grim and grimy reputation. Guardian readers were notoriously astonished and amused when, in November 2000, the Blaenavon landscape was granted World Heritage Status along side such places as Stonehenge, the Taj Mahal, the Grand Canyon, Venice, and the Great Wall of China. Residents of South East Wales were surely less surprised; but what will tempt us to explore Blaenavon when we live among so many sites of profound historical importance and outstanding beauty, both natural and manmade? A new book by that prolific author of guide books, Chris Barber, that's what! It's probably best to begin the exploration of Blaenavon in a comfortable armchair. Barber opens with a brief introduction to the concept of World Heritage Sites, and an explanation of the process by which the town came to be so honoured. There follows a 30-page history of Blaenavon and its industries, and we see exactly why the town does indeed merit its new status. It all began in 1787, when two Stourbridge businessmen realised that they had found the ideal location rich in coal, iron ore and limestone for the first purpose-built multi-furnace ironworks in Wales. The parallel development of collieries and ironworks was one of the principal dynamic forces that drove the Industrial Revolution. By the closing years of the Eighteenth Century, the Blaenavon Ironworks was the largest producer of iron in Wales, and for the next 150 years the area was of national significance. But, as 'every schoolboy knows', the decline of South Wales's heavy industries began in the years following the First World War. In 1938 the last furnace closed at Forgeside, and in 1957, the Blaenavon Company employees received their last pay packets. The redundant buildings were left to decay, and the once-prosperous town to dwindle. What is exceptional about the landscape that remained, however, is the very fact that it does remain. Nowhere else in the world is there such a well-preserved blast furnace of the date and type and importance of Blaenavon's. Nowhere else can we see in such close proximity the ironworks, the iron ore and coal workings, the quarries and wharves, or the primitive railways that link them (including the longest tunnel ever constructed for horse drawn operation). Added to this is the town itself. For Blaenavon is scheduled as a conservation area, and it contains numerous listed buildings of Special Architectural and Historic Interest, including an ironmaster's house, a church and school built by the owners of the ironworks, examples of workers' housing, numerous chapels, and an impressive Workmen's Hall and