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Case Studies

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Big Pit National Coal Museum

Big Pit is a real coal mine and one of Britain’s leading mining museums


A relationship that has spanned over 5 years, SDS have supported Big Pit National Coal Museum with parts and engineering consultation since 2017. Located in Blaenavon, South Wales, Big Pit is one of Britain’s leading mining museums. As part of the experience, guests can travel 300ft below ground using the specially designed winder system that allows the cages to travel the shaft. Once underground the quests are given an exclusive tour by an ex-miner where they navigate the old roadways and gaining an appreciation for life as a collier in coal mining. Our most recent project for the National Coal Museum involved supporting this very system.


The drive control that operates the winder that lowers the cage needed updating as parts were now obsolete and the ever-growing need for energy efficient systems. The client required a system that was fit for purpose: to support the weight of the visitors and lower them at a set speed into the coal mine. The technology they used prior to our visit was becoming obsolete and spare parts were becoming difficult to source. Having been in place since 1952, hence why the system required review and modernising.



Benefit One
The new system is energy efficient because of the AFE, it will also allow Big Pit to generate income from the excess energy produced from each wind.

Benefit Two
The original controls were retained to keep the authenticity of a coal mining winder system – even though we are updating the system, we are retaining the same control features – so the classical feature (Operated with 2 drive’ levers) can still operate the winder.

Benefit Three
By adding an HMI screen, the operator can observe where the cages are in relation to the shaft at a much more accurate distance to conform to current requirements and regulations.

“Great company to work with, efficient and professional in their approach. Attention to detail and technical expertise readily available to complete the job to a high standard, would highly recommend!”

Dwaine Smith

Big Pit Electrical Engineer

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