DEEP mines might be long gone from the Valleys, but there is a corner of Gwent where their influence is not forgotten.

A Pontypool pub has been transformed into a mine-themed bed and breakfast courtesy of a £200,000 refurbishment.

Ian Gregory, 52 - known locally as Gus - and his wife Alison, 47, took over the Little Crown Inn ten years ago.

But it was always the couple’s dream to develop the business and incorporate a mining theme, in keeping with the area's rich heritage.

Mr Gregory said it was something he had long been passionate about.

“Being from this part of Wales, I knew of the history of the mines and I wanted to bring that into the business.

"We didn’t want to become another closed pub so we set about diversifying.”

Since opening as a B&B at the start of the month, following an extension to the existing pub, they have already has guests from Australia and a booking for guests from the USA.

Each bedroom has been named after a local colliery and one corridor, leading to the new toilets and accommodation, has been transformed into a mine shaft.

Equipped with genuine mining lamps, gas masks and even falling beams, the mine shaft aims to bring a little bit of Welsh heritage to life for guests.

Continuing the theme, the men’s toilet ceiling has been decorated with articles from the 1984 Miners' Strike, which aims to lead to much reminiscing around the bar of the period that greatly affected the mining industry.

There are still a few more surprises being working on, and eventually the mining theme will be carried throughout the whole pub.

As part of the development, the couple have also been able to take on five new members of staff to help run the business.

Mr Gregory added: “It is a very exciting time for us as a new business and the mining theme has generated a lot of excitement locally, from people just popping in to take a look, and further afield.”

Mr and Mrs Gregory worked with NatWest relationship manager, Nick Bradley, to secure borrowing to fund the refurbishment work.

Mr Bradley said: “It's great to see a local business being so creative and seeking to capitalise on the heritage of the area."

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