Lightwater Valley

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Lightwater Valley
SloganThe Ultimate Family Adventure
LocationNorth Stainley, North Yorkshire, England
Coordinates54°10′34″N 1°34′14″W / 54.175975°N 1.570444°W / 54.175975; -1.570444Coordinates: 54°10′34″N 1°34′14″W / 54.175975°N 1.570444°W / 54.175975; -1.570444
OwnerLivingstone Leisure Ltd.
Operated byLightwater Valley Attractions Ltd.
OpenedSummer 1969
Operating seasonApril to November
Area175 acres (708,000 m2)
Attractions
Total36
Roller coasters4
Water rides2
Websitewww.lightwatervalley.co.uk

Lightwater Valley is a theme park in North Stainley, North Yorkshire, England.[1] The park is home to Europe's longest roller coaster, The Ultimate.[2]

Lightwater Valley was founded by Mr. Robert Staveley in 1969, and was owned and is now operated by Livingstone Leisure Ltd, having been purchased by them for £6.3 million in 2017.[3]

The park features approximately 30 rides and attracts approximately 500,000 visitors per year.[4]

Park Information[edit]

History[edit]

The boating lake at Lightwater Valley theme park

In 1969, Lightwater Valley began as a small self-pick fruit farm attraction. The farm was owned by the Staveley family, who had owned the land since 1516. In 1976, the farm was affected by drought, which resulted in the excavation of a lake to help reduce the effects of a future drought. The lake's popularity instigated the transition of the farm into a tourist attraction. Early attractions included an adventure playground (later Fort William), canoes, rowing boats and a circus. Later on, Staveley introduced a petting zoo, BMX bikes, Go Karts, a pitch and putt golf course, a hell slide and a water chute ('Devil's Cascade', later re-themed to 'Toad Hole'). During this time, the park was advertised as a country park and self-pick fruit farm.[5] A range of different fairground rides were introduced into the entrance areas of the park and the Lightwater Shopping Village was established.[citation needed]

The Lightwater Valley Theme Park was born when the Rat Ride was built in 1987. Robert Staveley wanted to expand on the family market and provide something for the thrill market whilst still being suitable for the younger audience. At the time, Robert Staveley's wife was a keen protector of the country park status and did not like the idea of having a roller coaster spoiling this. After much discussion, she permitted the construction of a roller coaster as long as it was out of sight. To accommodate his wife's wishes, Robert decided that he would bury the roller coaster underground and it became based on the dwellings of a sewer rat. The ride closed in 2009 for refurbishment and re-opened as Raptor Attack for the 2010 season. The ride was constructed by blasting large amounts of rock (which was sold) and capping the hole and exposed sides with a large barn style building. The ride attracted much attention, nearly doubling gate figures and paving the way for future developments including the park's first looping coaster, the Soopa Loopa, in 1988 which featured two vertical loops and a backward facing ride car.[citation needed]

Robert Staveley used the success of the Rat Ride to persuade his wife that a 'proper' roller coaster be built. He had liked the idea of having a roller coaster coming down the valley at the top of the park, but was faced with the challenge of getting people to the top of the valley to board the train. His wife suggested that the train be sent out to the top and then returned with the aid of two drops. In 1990, construction began on the world's longest roller coaster, costing £5.2 million and over 1.5 miles (2.4 km) in length, The Ultimate was opened to the public in 1991.[citation needed]

Additional rides and attractions were added throughout the decade, including roller coasters such as The Viper, The Batflyer, and The Ladybird. Water rides such as the Beaver Rapids log flume and Splash Falls were opened. A number of rides, including the Beaver Rapids and the Heatwave, were opened on short term leases instead of being purchased.

Ownership[edit]

In the mid 1990s, Robert Staveley handed the park over to his children, Amanda and James. However, in 1997, there was a change of ownership from a private family firm to Queensborough Holdings, who bought the park for £5.2 million. The park was sold because it had run into financial difficulties following the heavy expenditure on The Ultimate.

Queensborough Holdings was also in ownership of the Pleasurewood Hills Theme Park at the time. Both parks were operated by Leisure Great Britain, part of Queensborough Holdings. However, the new owners put the park back up for sale within 11 months of buying it as they decided to re-focus their business. However, no bid was accepted during the following few years. The park was given a new lease of life in February 2001 when Lightwater Valley was bought by Ball Investments who used Heritage GB to manage the operations.

The new ownership brought about rapid investment in ride offerings and brand imaging with new logos, mascots, websites and rides such as The Treetop Twister and Black Widow's Web in the first year, followed by rides such as The Octopus, The Eagle's Claw, The Grizzly Bear, The Caterpillar Coaster, Trauma Tower and Skyrider.

Following the unfortunate incidents of 2001, guest figures plummeted from their 1990 averages. Continual improvements to the family offering, brand imaging and marketing have resulted in vast improvements to customer satisfaction and attendance figures. Some of these improvements included: investment in the re-theming of the Sewer Rat to Raptor Attack, the introduction of the first themed 'area', 'Skeleton Cove', with five new rides (bought from the now defunct Loudoun Castle park in Scotland) along with new family friendly attractions such as the Angry Birds Activity Park, Eagles Creek Farm, the Vintage Car Rally and Jurassic mini golf course. Successful events such as the ever-popular annual Frightwater Valley Halloween event, Pirates & Princesses weekend, and UK bungee jump days have attracted record gate figures.

During the late 2000s, talk began of the potential development of Lightwater Resorts. Initial planning permission for holiday caravans and log cabins was rejected by Harrogate Borough Council due to concerns about the impact on traffic and local businesses. The park later re-designed and re-submitted their planning permission for 106 log cabins which was then granted.

In June 2017, the park was sold to attractions operator Livingstone Leisure Ltd for an undisclosed amount.

After Livingstone Leisure Ltd bought the park, the decision was made to close the Lightwater Country Shopping Village at the end of the 2017 season.[6]

The Bird Of Prey Centre was closed at the end of the 2018 season and did not return for 2019.

Attractions[edit]

Lightwater Valley has over 30 rides and attractions, ranging from thrill rides such as The Ultimate, Splash Falls, and small rides designed for children such as Dragon Boats. Lightwater Valley now categorizes their attractions into three groups: Rides & Attractions, Children's Play, and Entertainment. This distinguishes what rides are suitable for visitors and the expected height restriction for each.

Attractions Key[edit]

Colour Category
"Roller Coasters"
"Rides & Attractions"
"Children's Play"
"Entertainment"

Roller Coasters[edit]

# Name Type Opened Manufacturer Brief Description
1 Raptor Attack steel sit down 1987 Anton Schwarzkopf Indoor themed rollercoaster, operated as the Rat Ride from 1987 to 2009, refurbished and re-themed for the 2010 season; height limit 1.2 m. Wildcat model.
2 The Little Dipper steel sit down 2003 D.P.V. Rides (Pinfari) A small, gentle children's rollercoaster; height limit 1.3 m or 1.1 m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.3 m.
3 The Ladybird steel sit down 1993 Zierer A family coaster; height limit 1.3 m or 1.1 m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.3 m.
4 The Ultimate hybrid sit down 1991 Big Country Motioneering, British Rail & Lightwater Valley A hybrid coaster that holds the record as Europe's longest roller coaster at 7442 ft (2268 m); it reaches a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h) and a height of 107 ft (33 m); height limit 1.3 m.

Rides & Attractions[edit]

# Name Opened Manufacturer Brief Description
5
Eagle's Claw
2004
KMG An Afterburner (ride) giant swing ride; height limit 1.4m.[7]
6
Black Pearl
2011
Weber A large inverting ship (Traum Boot) in the Skeleton Cove area; height limit 1.4m. Originally manufactured 1983.
7
Skyrider
2006
Technical Park A rock 'n' roll-themed Chair-O-Plane ride; height limit 1.3m
8
Powder Kegs
2011
Huss A 1998 Rodeo/Breakdance 4-ride themed around explosive barrels of gunpowder; height limit 1.3m, 1.2m when accompanied by an adult.
9
Trauma Tower
2004
Moser's Rides Small family orientated 5 + 5 drop tower; height limit 1.3m or 100m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old 1.3m.
10
Carousel
2008
J. H. Rundle Traditional fairground galloping horses and chariots; height limit 1.2m to ride horses unaccompanied, 1.0m or accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old 1.2m
11
Splash Falls
1995
3 different water dinghy slides. Each dinghy seats 2 persons; height limit 1.3m unaccompanied. Slides 1&2: 1.2m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.3m. Slide 3: 1.1m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.3m.
12
Wild River Rapids
2009
Reverchon Spinning river raft ride that is 265 ft long and ends in a 160 ft drop. Rafts seat 4 persons; height limit 1.3m to ride or 1.2m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.3m.
13
The Flying Cutlass
2011
Huss A swinging pirate ship; height limit 1.4m. Part of Skeleton Cove.
14
Pirate Swinger
2011
Park Rides Junior chair swings; height limit 0.9m-1.3m, no adults. Part of Skeleton Cove.
15
Skull Rock
2011
Zamperla A Regatta ride, boats follow undulating track at speed; height limit 1.3m or 1.1m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1,3m. Part of Skeleton Cove.
16
Vintage Cars
2015
Lightwater Valley A vintage car rally ride with cars guided around a set track, themed around the London to Brighton run. Height limit 1.3m or 0.9m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.3m.
17
Swan Boats
1987
Pedal Boats; All under 16's must be accompanied by an adult (min. 0.9m in height)
18
Lightwater Express
1979
A 15 in (381 mm) gauge narrow gauge railway, which operates around the perimeter of the park. Two steam-outline diesel locomotives are employed.[8]. Height limit 1.3m to ride (under 1.3m may ride if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.3m)
19
Wave Rider
2012
Modern Products (Lindsey) Mini Swinging Ship. Height limit 1.2m to ride or 1.0m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.2m.
20
Noah's Ark
2007
Roundabout ride; height limit 1.1m to ride or 0.9m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.1m.
21
Dragon Boats
2007
Boat roundabout ride. Height limit 1.1m to ride or 0.9m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.1m.
22
Clownaround Clown themed roundabout ride. Height limit 1.1m to ride or 0.9m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.1m.
23
Jurassic Adventure Golf
2015
AC Attractions A dinosaur themed pay-to-play miniature golf course situated just outside of the park entrance.
24
Eagles Creek Farm
2013
A tractor ride. Height limit 1.3m to ride or 0.9m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.3m.
25
Thunderdome
2018
Maxwell A traditional 1960s fairground waltzer (on loan from John Armitage). Height limit 1.4m to ride or 1.2m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.4m.
26
Dodgems
2020
Supercar A traditional 1948 fairground dodgem (on loan from John Armitage).
27
Apollo
2016
AK Rides An AK Rides Star Flyer
28
Young Fun A selection of small rides for young children. Space Pirates, Lady Bug and Human Canonball: 1.1m to ride or 0.9m if accompanied by someone minimum 16 years old and 1.1m.

Children's play[edit]

# Name Opened Brief Description
29 Toddler Play An under 5's play zone located next to Jester's Jungle Fun. 2–5 year olds only, parental supervision required at all times.
30 Soft Play 2016 A jungle themed soft play area for the under 7's, complete with café for parents.
31 Adventure Playround 2017 Interactive playground with net swings, slides and climbing frames. Under 12s only, parental supervision required at all times.
32 Jumpin' Jacks 2017 Huge inflatable bouncy pillow 46 ft x 33 ft. Under 1.2 m in height to bounce (Under 5's must have 1:1 supervision by an adult).
33 Mini Sand Diggers 2017 Mini sand diggers
34 Jester's Jungle Fun 2019 An indoor interactive play zone for 4-7 year olds. Parental supervision required at all times.
35 Outdoor Play 2013 An interactive play zone for under 12 year olds. Formerly known as the Angry Birds Activity Park. Parental supervision required at all times.

Entertainment[edit]

# Name Opened Brief Description
36 Show Barn 2019 Entertainment venue.

The Ultimate[edit]

One of the two "Ultimate" trains on the first lift hill.

The Ultimate was designed by Big Country Motioneering (BCM) and the park's original owner, Robert Staveley. Construction began in early 1990, taking 18 months to complete. The ride's Canadian redwood trestles and large station building were constructed by Staveley's in-house construction team, which was responsible for building Lightwater Valley's other buildings. The metal track work was ordered from BCM who used fabricators 'Tubular Engineering' to manufacture it. However, much of the installation was largely undertaken in-house and supervised by engineers from British Rail after BCM were sacked due to track problems and slow progress. The scale of the project led to both contracted companies going bankrupt halfway through its construction, leaving Staveley's team and British Rail to finish the project on their own.[citation needed] Staveley got assistance from American and German roller coaster manufacturers, who advised him to ensure that there was enough flexibility in the track to allow for expansion and contraction under fluctuating temperatures. Overall, the project was over a year behind schedule and went significantly over budget. Staveley wanted to ensure that he was the first to ride his creation well in advance of its opening in order to give himself time to improve and re-work areas of track. He did so by riding in one of the trains that had not yet been fitted with any restraints, using only rope to secure himself.[citation needed]

The ride opened on 17 July 1991 by Frank Bruno. When opened, it was the world's longest rollercoaster at 1.5 miles (2.4 km), taking over 5 minutes to ride, and costing £5.2 million.[citation needed] Initially, Staveley had not set out to break any records and it was only once construction had gotten underway that a colleague exclaimed that there couldn't be a roller coaster longer than the one they were building.[citation needed] Later that day, a colleague was sent to Ripon to buy the Guinness Book of Records, which confirmed that the length of track that Staveley had ordered was well over the record. The Ultimate has two trains, which have both been reverted to the original navy blue colour after serving 17 years as red and blue. The trains also used to have over-the-shoulder-restraints until 1992 when they were removed and replaced with lap bar restraints to improve the ride experience.

A number of modifications had to be made following its opening. After a season of operation, a significant number of the bogies and wheels had cracks in them resulting in subsequent replacement and strengthening. One of the trains suffered from a wheel collapse on one of the train car chassis, resulting in minor injuries as the train coasted to a gradual stop.[citation needed]

In 2016, Lightwater Valley celebrated 25 years of The Ultimate.

Park mascots[edit]

Initially, the park had a single mascot, Woody the Bear. In 2001, the Valligators were introduced to the park. The Valligators were three green alligator-costumed entertainers who acted as the park's mascots named Harry, Sally and Baby Al.

Incidents[edit]

On 21 June 2001, 20-year-old Gemma Savage died following an accident the previous day when two carriages collided on Treetop Twister, a spinning Wild Mouse roller coaster, which had opened in May of that year.[9] Police decided not to prosecute a maintenance worker, who claimed that he had only received an hour of training on that ride and had not seen its manual.[10] Faulty wiring had also caused a malfunction on the ride.[11] In October 2004, Deputy Coroner John Sleightholme at Skipton Magistrates' Court ruled death by misadventure.

Lightwater Valley's owners and electrician Eric Butters admitted to breaching health and safety laws at Leeds Crown Court on 14 November 2006. Lightwater Valley Attractions Ltd was charged with failing to ensure the health and safety of riders. Butters was charged with failing to ensure safety through his work. Both pleaded guilty.[12] A French manufacturer, Reverchon Industries SA, was convicted of two charges of failing to ensure the ride's safe design and construction.[13]

In May 2019, a young boy fell 30 ft from The Twister and was left in critical condition.[14] The ride was sold to a UK based showman at the end of the 2019 season.

Energy efficiency[edit]

In 2015, the park reported energy efficiency savings of around £130,000 a year stemming from investment in renewable technologies.[15] These include new carbon-neutral biomass boilers producing 400 kW per unit, enabling the park to move away from the conventional oil-based heating system. In addition, a new ground-mounted photovoltaic array was installed in the adjacent fields, which has supplied up to 45% of the park's energy demand.

Past attractions[edit]

# Name Opened Closed Brief Description Replaced by
1 Toad Hole 1985 2006 A semi-enclosed water chute, formerly called 'Devil's Cascade'. Set to reopen 2 Lightwater Wheel
2 The Sewer Rat 1987 2009 A Schwarzkopf Wildcat Type roller coaster, also known as 'The Rat Ride'.[16] Raptor Attack
3 Soopa Loopa 1988 1994 A double looping roller coaster manufactured by Soquet[17] Falls Of Terror
4 The Wave 1990 2010 A large Zamperla swinging ship located in the woods which closed because of a new pirate ship (The Flying Cutlass) opening in Skeleton Cove. Sold to Alex Crow. The Flying Cutlass
5 Grand Prix Go Karts 1991 2010 Traditional go-kart track. Skeleton Cove
6 The Mexican Hat 1994 2005 An ARM Trabant ride. Originally located at the park entrance area, then moved next to where Flying Camels is now. The Octopus
7 Viper/Zyklen 1996 2001 A City Jet / Jet 400 type ride manufactured by Schwarzkopf.[18] Eagle's Claw
8 The Batflyer 1996 2002 A steel suspended roller coaster.[19] The Caterpillar Coaster
9 The Orbiter 1998 2004 A Schwarzkopf Apollo ride owned by the Bembom Brothers and leased to Lightwater Valley. Chair swing variant. First opened with the name 'Heatwave'. The Octopus
10 Beaver Rapids 2000 2002 A Reverchon two drop Log Flume ride. Grizzly Bear
11 The Caterpillar Coaster 2003 2013 A D.P.V. Rides Big Apple/Wacky Worm coaster located on the former Batflyer site and re-themed/relocated to the former Vintage Cars site next to Hungry Harbour in 2014. The Little Dipper
12 Grizzly Bear 2004 2008 A Pinfari Zyklon-type Roller Coaster. Wild River Rapids (until 2014)

Vintage Car Rally (2015 onwards)

13 The Octopus 2005 2006 A Soriani & Moser Polyp ride owned by John Armitage and leased to Lightwater Valley for two seasons. Skyrider (2006) and Flying Camels (2007)
14 Hornets Nest 2007 2009 A 1998 Chance Chaos purchased from Pleasureland Southport. Scrapped. Whirlwind
15 Whirlwind 2010 2011 A Mondial Top Scan (leased for one season from Alex Crow) Eagles Creek Farm
16 Whirlwind 2011 2015 A Mondial Top Scan. Sold to UK based showman Joe William Whitelegg. Apollo
17 Lightwater Wheel 2008 2016 A Technical Park 82-ft observation wheel. Sold to Alex Crow. Flying Nellies (on loan from Alex Crow)
18 Buffalo Express 2003 2016 Mini Train Ride Interactive Playground
19 Flying Camels 2007 2016 Aerial carousel ride featuring camels purchased from Pleasureland Southport. Mini Sand Diggers
20 Black Widow's Web 2001 2017 A Huss Enterprise (on loan from John Armitage). 'Thunderdome' Waltzer (on loan from John Armitage)
21 Skate Karts 1990 2018 A skateboard attraction where riders raced down a banked concrete track on "Skate Karts"
22 Twister 2001 2019 A Reverchon spinning wild mouse coaster. Sold to UK based showman Emerson Edwards. Dodgems (on loan from John Armitage)
23 Spinning Teacups 2019 Spinning tea cups
24 Mini Ferris Wheel unknown 2019 Mini ferris wheel

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Lightwater Valley theme park information". lastminute.com. Retrieved 9 August 2010.
  2. ^ "The Longest Roller Coasters in the World". TravelVivi.com. Retrieved 9 August 2010.
  3. ^ "Companies House audit, page 32". Companies House. 4 December 2018.
  4. ^ "Lightwater Valley's Angry Birds activity park sparks tourism hope". BBC News. 21 May 2013.
  5. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-I-mSMbRib4
  6. ^ "Lightwater Valley Attractions Limited". Companies House. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Eagles Claw - Coaster Force". coasterforce.com. Retrieved 20 August 2010.
  8. ^ Official webpage shown here.
  9. ^ "Student dies after fairground crash". BBC News. 21 June 2001. Retrieved 30 November 2006.
  10. ^ "Worker cleared over ride death". BBC News. 31 August 2001. Retrieved 30 November 2006.
  11. ^ "'Worker error' before ride death". BBC News. 5 October 2004. Retrieved 30 November 2006.
  12. ^ "Theme park guilty over ride death". BBC News. 14 November 2006. Retrieved 30 November 2006.
  13. ^ "Firm guilty over park ride death". BBC News. 30 November 2006. Retrieved 30 November 2006.
  14. ^ "Boy, 6, 'falls from rollercoaster'". BBC News. 30 May 2019. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  15. ^ "Lightwater Valley makes eco-friendly energy savings". Heritage GB. 8 September 2015. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  16. ^ "Raptor Attack (Lightwater Valley)". RCDB. Retrieved 19 November 2010.
  17. ^ "Soopa Loopa (Lightwater Valley)". RCDB. Retrieved 19 November 2010. Relocated to The American Adventure Theme Park as "Twin Looper" From 1995 To 2006.
  18. ^ "Viper (Lightwater Valley)". RCDB. Retrieved 19 November 2010.
  19. ^ "Batflyer (Lightwater Valley)". RCDB. Retrieved 19 November 2010.