HOLLYWOOD star Luke Evans has said he “will never forget” the first time he travelled 300ft underground down the former mineshaft at Big Pit.

The actor, who has featured in films including Beauty and the Beast, Fast and Furious 6 and The Hobbit trilogy, has shared his experience of visiting the National Coal Museum ahead of the underground tours reopening for the first time in 16 months next week.

Pontypool-born Evans comes from a mining family, and his uncle Gavin Rogers was a tour guide at Big Pit – having previously worked as a coal miner.

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“I will never forget my first trip underground in the mine and the experience has remained with me ever since in understanding the heritage and history of what was the biggest industry in Wales,” he said.

“One of my most memorable experiences at Big Pit was with my entire family when my uncle Gavin was our tour guide.

South Wales Argus: Luke Evans comes from a mining family, and his uncle Gavin Rogers was a former miner and tour guide at Big Pit. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire.Luke Evans comes from a mining family, and his uncle Gavin Rogers was a former miner and tour guide at Big Pit. Picture: Ian West/PA Wire.

“When he shares his first-hand experience of working in the mine with other people his enthusiasm and authenticity makes him the perfect guide, I’ve never seen someone shine so bright in such a dark place.

“I’ve brought many groups of friends to Wales, from Argentina, Miami, New York, Holland, Scotland and New Zealand, and the first place I always take them is Big Pit. Nobody ever leaves without feeling that they’ve experienced something unique and special.

“So go to Big Pit this summer and share your story. I’m certain it won’t be your last visit, because you never get bored of seeing that place and what is above and below the ground.”

The underground tours will resume from Tuesday, August 17.

South Wales Argus: The underground tours at Big Pit will resume from August 17. Picture: National Museum WalesThe underground tours at Big Pit will resume from August 17. Picture: National Museum Wales

National Museum Wales – which owns Big Pit National Coal Museum – is encouraging others to share stories from their mining past, or from visiting the museum on social media using #MyStoryOfWales.

Dai Price, head of Big Pit National Coal Museum, said: “Our seven sites across Wales, including Big Pit, offer an opportunity to experience culture and heritage first-hand, whether that’s going underground in a coal mine, watching slate being split, or experiencing spinning and weaving at a woollen mill.

“The museums offer rich cultural experiences that inspire visitors and we want to hear their stories this summer.

“Since reopening, it’s been incredible to see so many people safely visit our museums and be inspired by the collections and their experiences.”