THOUSANDS of visitors took a step back in time at a Torfaen heritage site this weekend as it was transformed into a interactive hub of living history.

In recent years, Blaenavon Ironworks has built a reputation for its engaging living history events, allowing visitors to chat to actors portraying characters from historical periods.

History events at the site attempt to bring the past to life for families and are an eagerly anticipated part of the Summer calendar.

Over the weekend, the popular ‘Defence of Blaenavon’ event returned uniting a small army of history enthusiasts help raise funds for the Royal British Legion in Blaenavon.

The South Wales Borderers WW2 Re-enactment Group (SWBRG) organised the event which included two full days of living history displays, battle re-enactments, music and real stories of lives on the home front.

This included various solider camps and guarded checkpoints and the chance to meet ‘soldiers’ from Britain, America and Germany.

Highlights this year included dynamic skirmishes peppered throughout the site, a pop-up 1940s pub, vintage policeman and Juliette Herbert aka “ Nancy Fringeless” and Joy Smith aka “Pam” in their mobile kitchen.

The role of the media was also explored with actor Janice Littleford portraying a US Correspondent covering the conflict - vintage cameras included.

Torfaen Sea Cadets and the Royal British Legion, Blaenavon Branch attended over the weekend alongside 1940s-style singers ‘Pushy Pups’ and talks from various history groups.

Wendy Sidney, of the SWBRG, helped organise the event which aims to “make history come alive in front of your eyes”.

The group raised £600 for the Royal British Legion’s Blaenavon Branch following their Defence of Blaenavon event last year but totals for this year’s event are still being counted.

“The event went excellently and the general public enjoyed the atmosphere and the small battle skirmishes,” she said.

“We had a least 1,401 through the gates on Sunday and a lot of people supported the Royal British Legion”.

She added a big thankyou to the re-enactors who had travelled from “across the country”, the Blaenavon Ironworks staff and the general public for supporting the event,which attracted more than 2,500 over the two days.

“A lot of children were very interested in the re-enactors and were asking them many questions. You could tell they were really enjoying themselves,” she added.

“Hopefully next year we will build on this huge success and make it better”.

The ironworks, which commenced started production in 1789, are the best preserved blast furnace complex of its period and type in the world and are one of the most important monuments to have survived from the early part of the industrial revolution.

The site is managed by Welsh Government’s Historic Environment Service, Cadw, and has been carefully restored for public viewing.

For more information on future events at the site,call Blaenavon Ironworks on 01495 792615 or email the venue at