Your Day at the Museum

As well as the Underground Experience and workshops, there are galleries, exhibitions, original pit buildings and a Nature Trail to explore, which will keep your pupils engaged for the whole day.

We recommend that you allow 1 hour – 1 hour 30mins to explore our buildings and galleries.  Use our Teacher Gallery Guide to help you explore our site.

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Original pit buildings

Our historic Caphouse site dates back to the 1790s and many of the original pit buildings are open for you to explore.Sights, sounds and smells combine to give each original pit building its own unique atmosphere.

Steam Winding Engine

See our steam winding engine, dating back to 1876

Pit Head Baths

Visit the pithead baths where a miner’s shift started and finished

Pit Ponies at the Stables

See the ponies in the stables.

Galleries and exhibitions

Our galleries and exhibition spaces show the history of coal mining and get to the heart of mining communities, homes and families.


Mining Lives Gallery

Displays and handling drawers about home and community; sports and leisure; disaster and strikes. Look out for the Art Cart stocked with drawing materials.

1842 Gallery 

Find out about working conditions and lives of women and children who worked underground in the early 19th Century.

Coal Interface Gallery 

Get up close to the Museum’s technology collection and find out how mining inventions through time have made miners’ working lives safer and more efficient.

Special exhibitions 

Our changing special exhibitions programme means there is always something new to discover.  Please click here for the current Special Exhibition.

Nature Trail, Reed beds & Hope Pit

Nature Trail

Follow the half-mile Nature Trail and see how an old colliery spoilt tip now creates a lush habitat for wildlife, plants and trees.  

Reed Beds

Amaze your pupils with a trip to the reed beds to see how the Museum cleans the bright orange iron-rich mine water pumped from underground.


Hope Pit

How did miners breathe underground? How did they power their machines? Find the answers to these science questions with a visit to Hope Pit, a smaller colliery dating back to the 1830s. Hope Pit is approximately a 5-10 min walk from Reception.

Talks and Demonstrations

These informal talks are free but do need to be booked in advance. Please indicate on your booking form if you would like to book one.

Horsekeeper talk

  • Visit the stable yard and listen to our horsekeepers tell you about the working lives of pit ponies.
  • Available daily at 11.30 and 13.30
  • Duration: 15 minutes

Steam winder demonstration

  • See an original Victorian steam winding engine in action at the Steam Winding Engine House
  • Available daily
  • Duration: 10 minutes

Science Explorer Trails

These self-guided explorer trails challenge pupils to follow clues and complete activities, which show how science is applied in everyday life at the Museum and in the mining industry. If you would like to book a Science Explorer Trail please indicate this on your booking form.

  • Available: Monday- Friday
  • Cost: £10 per booking
  • Duration: each trail takes about 45 minutes to complete


Rocks trail

Subject focus: Science (The Earth and beyond)

Why is gravel used on locomotive tracks? Why have the steps eroded? This trail challenges pupils to find and investigate rock samples in situ around the site. You can book this to complement a Rocks and Fossils workshop.

The Rocks Trail and Teachers’ Notes can be downloaded here:

Materials trail

Subject focus: Science (Materials and their properties)

Why is steel used for making horseshoes? What are the tiles in the Pithead Baths made from? This trail challenges pupils to investigate materials used in the mining industry and around the Museum.

The Materials Trail and Teachers’ Notes can be downloaded here

Habitats trail

Subject focus: Science (Living things in their environment)

Based on the Museum’s Nature Trail, pupils explore and observe different habitats and learn about life processes, feeding relationships and classification.

The Habitats Trail and Teachers’ Notes a can be downloaded here

Contact the education team

If you have any questions about any aspect of learning at the Museum or if you would like to arrange a preliminary visit, email the education team here: or telephone 01924 848806 and ask to speak to a member of staff.

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