A NEW generation will be able to appreciate the life of a miner thanks to a new attraction.
Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt officially unveiled a recently conserved 140-metre long, glass-fronted shaft, which is believed to be the only one still in existence.
It will mean families can now stand and look down to the coalface at the National Coal Mining Museum in Overton.
Conservative MP Mr Hunt visited the site yesterday after the Department for Culture Media and Sport contributed £150,000, along with the Department for Trade and Industry, to its upkeep.
Back in 2007 the furnace shaft was found to be in danger of collapse.
Museum director Dr Margaret Faull OBE said: “The furnace shaft would originally have had a fire lit at the bottom, to send warm air up the shaft, thereby drawing in fresh air down the main riding shaft, 35 metres away and so ventilating the pit. It is believed to be the only furnace shaft still in existence.
“It is very appropriate that the opening is being carried out by the secretary of state of the department that enabled the funding to be raised to carry out the work.”
Partnership funding was provided by the Heritage Lottery Fund for the cost of conserving the shaft.
And additional money came from other organisations and members of the public through the Buy a Brick Appeal.
The lamproom, where visitors collect their hard hats, has also been refurbished.
The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm.