Because the tourism sector reopens in Wales, Breaking Journey Information editor, Chris O’Toole, right here visits the brand new Zip World Tower in Rhigos to learn how the attraction is contributing to the regeneration of the native space
Miners on the Tower Colliery had been capable of generate wealth from what lay beneath the bottom of southern Wales for generations till the pit lastly closed in 2008.
The location grew to become the image for the miners’ resistance within the Nineteen Nineties, after staff used redundancy pay-outs to buyout administration and proceed operations.
They went on to efficiently run the pit, the oldest repeatedly working deep coal mine within the UK, for 15 years earlier than reserves had been lastly exhausted a decade or extra in the past.
At this time, Zip World is hoping to repeat the trick aboveground, reopening the long-dormant web site as the most recent in a sequence of journey tourism sights – Zip World Tower.
Set within the Rhigos mountain vary with beautiful views overlooking the Brecon Beacons, the situation has been designed to create a long-lasting legacy amid the mining heritage.
Sean Taylor, founding father of Zip World, mentioned: “From slate caverns to quarry carting, Wales is house to among the greatest outside journey locations on the earth.
“It’s been a difficult time for the tourism sector over the previous 12 months however with the opening of Zip World Tower, we really feel like it can solely go from power to power.”
He added: “We’ve got confirmed expertise of preserving and regenerating iconic websites and, as a passionate Welshman, I couldn’t consider a greater location than the South Wales Valleys to create a brand new legacy and develop our model exterior of north Wales for the primary time.
“We’ve got been overjoyed with the wonderful reception from the local people and companies, who we will’t thank sufficient for his or her persevering with assist – we really feel at house already.”
Arriving to research the brand new facility, it’s apparent the mining traditions have been preserved.
The Tower Colliery headstock nonetheless looms massive, gazing out over the encircling fields, whereas the star attraction – the Phoenix Zip Line – is called in honour of the miners who resurrected the enterprise all these years in the past.
There’s additionally the Tower Coaster, a two-seater industrial-style toboggan on rails that’s the solely considered one of its form in Europe.
Tyrone O’Sullivan, chairman of the Tower Colliery, mentioned: “It’s unbelievable to have the chance to usher in a brand new chapter within the Tower Colliery story, in a method that captures the economic historical past of the location and provides the local people a lift too.
“We had been actually impressed with how Zip World reinvented a slate quarry right into a thriving vacationer attraction on the Penrhyn Quarry in north Wales and couldn’t consider a greater solution to maintain the legacy of this iconic web site.”
An hour’s drive for both Cardiff or Swansea, the location was packed after we referred to as in earlier this month.
Guests are welcomed in teams of 32, kitted up with the most recent gear and shuttled as much as the highest of the mountain by minibus.
The entire course of is kind of concerned, and might take round an hour, however it’s actually definitely worth the wait.
The Phoenix itself, thought-about the quickest seated zip line on the earth, consists of 4 parallel strains unfold over two separate zip zones.
Riders are clipped onto the primary line and requested to regular themselves for just a few seconds earlier than the gates are thrown open and so they hurtle down over the mountains at speeds of as much as 50 miles per hour.
It’s an exhilarating expertise, however one that’s open to guests of all ages – considered one of my co-riders was hardly greater than 12 years previous, however he beloved each second.
A fast journey to the highest of the second tower, and there’s likelihood to do it once more, this time arriving again at base camp the place a café and bar are ready for the intrepid travellers.
David Samways, a former conveyor belt fitter on the coal mine whose grandson works as an teacher at Zip World Tower, mentioned: “Like many others on this space, I really feel a detailed connection to Tower Colliery.
“I spent a lot of my working life on the Tower Colliery the place we constructed miles of conveyor belt to move the coal.
“Seeing issues come full circle with my grandson Jack securing a job at Zip World Tower feels wonderful and I’m reminded but once more of what a particular neighborhood that is.”
Mini thrill seekers can get their kicks at Zip World Tower too.
Massive Purple, the most important cell zip on the earth, is on provide at base, permitting youngsters to experience alongside each other on a 270-foot line.
Zip World Tower has created round 50 jobs within the Rhigos space following its launch, whereas there are hopes of welcoming an estimated 100,000 guests in its first 12 months of operation.
On this proof, they need to haven’t any downside reaching that milestone.
For extra on the Zip World Tower or different Zip World areas throughout Wales, head over to the official website.