South East Wales

Royal Mint in Llantrisant to open doors to visitors

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionBehind the scenes: Making money at the Royal Mint

The inner workings of the Royal Mint are to be opened up to visitors for the first time in its 1,000 year history.

The Royal Mint Experience opens at its Llantrisant site in south Wales on Wednesday for people to watch workers as they mint coins and view an interactive exhibition.

Up to 130,000 visitors are expected each year.

The Mint said it was an "unprecedented insight" into one of the UK's oldest institutions.

Image copyright Alistair Heap
Image caption London 2012's Olympic and Paralympic medals were minted in Llantrisant and are on show

The Royal Mint was established in the Tower of London but it has been based in Llantrisant since 1968 when it was opened by the Queen.

Since then it has become a success story for the area, employing about 900 people and minting coins and medals for more than 60 countries around the world.

Now, after £9m of work - including a £2.3m Welsh Government grant - it is to open its doors to paying visitors.

Behind-the-scenes tours will be available, allowing people to watch through a glass wall to see coins being minted - more than 700 are produced every minute.

The exhibition explores the history of the Mint, its money and the medals it makes, along with looking at people's relationship with coins and the hobby of collecting them.

A classroom is also on site for school children to learn about engraving coins and how to check if they are genuine.

BBC News' Gemma Ryall at the Royal Mint Experience

Image copyright Alistair Heap

It is not every day you see thousands of gold coins pouring from a machine, hearing the clattering sound of money literally being made.

But that is the unique selling point of the Royal Mint Experience: nowhere else in the UK offers you a glimpse behind the scenes as workers mint the coins we are so familiar with.

Just through a glass screen you can see blanks becoming coins, before they are poured into crates and lined up ready to be taken around the world.

Apart from the sheer wonder at seeing so much money - rows of crates filled with gold, silver and copper coins - the tour gives visitors a real insight into how much work goes into making a coin.

It is something the Mint hopes will appeal to all visitors, old and young alike - an informative and entertaining visitor attraction to boost tourism in an area of south Wales that is often overlooked.

Image copyright Alistair Heap

Dr Kevin Clancy, director of the Royal Mint's museum, said they hoped to attract visitors from all over the UK and overseas.

"The mint has been open to visitors previously but this is unprecedented access. We have a huge, ambitious exhibition and education suite," he said.

"There are many galleries and museums in the country but what else is there like this in Britain?

"It's engaging and dynamic. It's terrifically ambitious. The Mint has been a success story in south Wales and this is a fantastic way to tell our history."

He said that people remained fascinated by coins.

"I think it's because it's like a bit of history we're carrying around in our pockets," he added.

"We also use them for so many things - as a lucky coin, tossing a coin. People have also collected them for years - they record history."

Image copyright Alistair Heap

Cheryl Williams, a retired teacher who has been employed as one of the tour guides, said as she was growing up in nearby Tonyrefail, many of her classmates joined the Mint after leaving school.

"Lots of them still work here," she said.

"As you watch them working it's very clear how proud they are of the coins they make.

"When I was growing up, it was always a bit of a mystery what went on behind closed doors here - it's fantastic that people can now come and see for themselves."

Related Topics

More on this story