MORE people are taking the chance to go down the pit in West Yorkshire than ever before as the National Coal Mining Museum has announced record visitor numbers.
The Wakefield-based museum says more visitors are stepping through its doors and taking a journey down into the pit now than in any previous year.
The museum smashed its previous highest visitor numbers during 2006/7, with almost 130,000 people taking advantage of the free attraction.
The museum also received rave reviews from visitors, with 95 per cent rating it as good or very good, while 25 per cent of all visitors were making a repeat visit.
Richard Saward, commercial director at the museum, said: "This is an amazing achievement as it's now five years since we introduced free admission and we had thought the numbers would plateau.
"The 2006/7 visitor figures are a credit to all our staff and their hard work and dedication."
The museum is based on the site of the old Caphouse Colliery at Overton which was worked from at least 1789 until the coal seam was exhausted in 1985.
Work was then begun to convert it into a museum.
The remaining miners were transferred to Denby Grange Colliery at nearby Grange Moore.
The museum opened in 1988 as the Yorkshire Mining Museum, and it was granted national status in 1995.
The museum offers guided underground tours where visitors can see the conditions miners worked in alongside the tools and machines they used.
Visitor figures over the past year increased across the board, breaking records in three key areas. There were:
Over 102,000 general visitors.
16,700 educational visitors.
Over 10,000 people taking advantage of the museum's conference facilities.
The museum has been able to offer free admission for the past five years and bosses hope to break the 130,000 barrier in 2007/8.
The National Coal Mining Museum for England is open all year round from 10am until 5pm, except for December 24-26 and January 1.
Admission is free, and free car and coach parking and complete disabled access are available.
Children must be at least five years old to go on the underground tour.
For more information, visit www.ncm.org.uk or telephone 01924 840 694.