Michael Bewick of Llechwedd Slate Caverns tells us about a new lease of life for a hardworking piece of underground machinery.
If you make it to Llechwedd by 5 November, you’ll have a chance to be one of the last to ride our cable train down into the mine before it gets dismantled for a well-deserved refurbishment. Named ‘Wil Cribau’ after Wil Jones, one of the mine’s former rock men, the train’s steep 500ft descent into the heart of the mountain provides a dramatic start to our thrilling Deep Mine Tour. It’s carried more than a million visitors since it first started operating in 1979, so it’s about time it had a bit of a rest.
During the upgrade works, the cabins of the train will be removed and transported over 120 miles to rail specialist Clayton Equipment, based in Staffordshire. They will refurbish the chassis and build an entirely new cabin providing more space for passengers.
Last year we invested a significant sum into enhancing our deep mine tour, and now it’s time for our cable railway to get a similar upgrade. We know the ride underground is much-loved by our visitors, and we’ll make sure the refurbishment is true to the spirit of the original.
The last ride on the current cableway will depart on Sunday 5 November, and the work is expected to be completed with the train operational again by early spring 2018. We’re marking the event with a special commemorative slate coaster.
While the train is away, visitors will still be able to explore the Deep Mine by taking part in one of our walking tours. With 183 steps down into the old slate chambers and a further 61 steps up and down on the tour itself, it’s a little more challenging than taking the train but still a great underground adventure.
The tour tells the story of the men and boys who built the slate industry of North Wales. Experienced from the point of view of the mine workers, the interactive tour uses cutting edge technology, extraordinary light projections and explosive special effects to transport visitors back in time to the 1850s. The underground experience is complemented by a thrilling off-road Quarry Explorer Tour of the mine’s slate piles and mountain peaks.
To find out more and book your tour online, visit the Llechwedd Slate Caverns website.