Llechwedd’s original cable train will make its last trip underground on 5 November
Visitors to one of North Wales’s most popular family attractions have just a few more weeks to take a ride on the UK’s steepest cable railway before it is dismantled for refurbishment.
The cable railway at Llechwedd – which made its first journey underground in 1979 – has transported over a million visitors to a depth of 500 feet, right into the heart of the slate mountain.
Its train, which is named ‘Wil Cribau’ after one of the mine’s former rock men (Wil Jones) and a local mountain, descends at a gradient of 1 in 1.8, or 30 degrees, and marks a dramatic start to the attraction’s Deep Mine Tour.
During the scheduled 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 which will provide more space for passengers.
The last ride on the current cableway will depart on Sunday November 5, and the work is expected to be completed with the train operational again by early spring 2018. A special commemorative slate coaster will be produced for the occasion.
In the interim, visitors to The Slate Caverns will still be able to visit the Deep Mine by taking part in one of Llechwedd's Walking Tours - descending 183 steps to reach the old slate chambers. There are a further 61 steps to go up and down on the tour itself, and stout footwear, warm clothing and a reasonable level of fitness are essential.
Michael Bewick, managing director at The Slate Caverns said: “Over the years our hardworking cable train has thrilled over a million visitors to The Slate Caverns by transporting them deep into the mountain and safely back to the surface again.
“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.”
Jon Knowles, consulting engineer at The Slate Caverns said: “The refurbishment will improve the visual appearance, comfort, reliability and emergency egress of the train whilst ensuring that the proven safety systems it incorporates continue to provide the totally safe system that our customers expect for many years to come. Clayton Equipment were awarded the work after a competitive tendering process and to date have met all our expectations.”
The Deep Mine Tour at The Slate Caverns 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.
The heritage experience, which is based near Blaenau Ffestiniog in Snowdonia, was recognised by 2016’s national Museum and Heritage Awards for its compelling digital re-telling of the Victorian slate industry.
Standard adult admission for the Deep Mine Tour is £20. Early bird admission is £10. Book online at https://www.llechwedd-slate-caverns.co.uk/