Unearth the story of coal at the National Coal Mining Museum

Dig deeper into the history of coal mining and unearth what life was like as a miner at the National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield.

Based at the former Caphouse Colliery, the free, family-friendly museum passes on the flame to future generations so the mining industry’s story is never extinguished.

Gearhead Wheel – (c) JMA Photography

The pull for most visitors is the chance to wear a hardhat and head down in the old miners’ cage for an underground tour led by former miners.

But there is so much to discover above ground, too. Spend the day exploring the huge site to learn more about Caphouse’s almost 200-year history of producing coal from the 1790s until it closed in 1985.

Many of the colliery’s original buildings have been retained to provide an authentic and educational experience, including the 1840s pumping house, 1876 steam winding house, and the old pithead baths where Caphouse miners would have started and ended a shift.

Underground tour (c) NCMME

Kids can burn off some energy on the mining themed adventure playground. In the summer, there is a sandpit with deckchairs, beach huts and snacks served from the Snap Tin café.

Jump on the paddy train or walk up through the nature trail to find the pony discovery centre. You can learn about pit ponies, do some horse-themed crafts, brush manes and tails, and see the horse and three ponies that live up there.

Head into the Hub, a museum space filled with artefacts, stories and information about the mining industry. There’s a small indoor play area for toddlers, plus a two-up-two-down house with kitchenette and outhouse – complete with newspaper on a string!

To mark the 40th anniversary of the miners’ strike, the museum is running a year-long exhibition and events programme called 84/85 – The Longest Year. Shaped by a public call out for memories, photos and ephemera from former miners, the exhibition is explicitly equal between strikers, non-strikers and those who went back to work. 

Main Gallery (c) JMA Photography

National Coal Mining Museum for England

Open Wednesday to Sunday 9.45am-4pm

Free admission – donations welcome

Caphouse Colliery, New Road, Overton, Wakefield, WF4 4RH.