We met up with Lightwater Valley’s charismatic maintenance manager Tony Bolsover who has worked at the North Yorkshire attraction since 1998. We discussed the work that takes place each winter and how you maintain Europe’s longest roller coaster on top of the park’s eclectic mix of other rides. Before managing the maintenance department, Tony was the lead fitter on The Ultimate.
Have you ever wondered why one of The Ultimate trains was named ‘Tony’s Tornado’ – now you know!
How long have you worked at Lightwater Valley? Can you explain a little bit about your role?
I have worked at Lightwater Valley for twelve and a half years. In my role as Maintenance Manager I am responsible for the maintenance of all rides on the park, i.e. preventative maintenance, in servicing of rides and winter maintenance, including ride strip down for inspection and NDT (None Destructive Testing). I am also responsible for training of personnel and ride authorisations.
How many staff are employed to maintain the attractions at the park and what special skills do they possess?
In the Maintenance department at this time we have 7 fitters (must be to BTEC standard), 2 electricians (qualified), 1 apprentice (mechanical), 1 semi-skilled (mechanical), and 1 joiner.
What are the main challenges when maintaining a unique ride like The Ultimate?
As a truly unique ride, The Ultimate cannot be compared to anything else. It takes personnel over a year to train on the ride, in order to understand the running of the system and to gain the necessary experience. As the Ultimate is the longest roller coaster in Europe, when faults occur it takes team work to resolve them due to the size of the ride.
Over the winter months, what specific work is done on The Ultimate?
Over the winter months the Ultimate is completely stripped down (two trains). This takes two fitters, full time, to strip and prepare the ride for NDT and testing, then reassemble the ride for the next season.
Do you enjoy riding the rides yourself?
I do enjoy some of the rides, mostly the rollercoasters. I’m not a big fan of anything that swings back and forth, it must be my age, I’m getting old! I’ll leave the swinging rides to the younger ones!
In the past, Lightwater Valley was famed for constructing their own rides, most notably the Devil’s Cacade and Toad Hole. Do you think there is scope for that to happen again in the future?
In the past maybe, but now with new regulations, design reviews and testing, not so much. We do make sure we have a significant input into theming and setting up of any new rides.
gforcemag.com would like to express their thanks to Tony Bolsover & Angela Marshall for their assistance with this week’s content.
Photos: Lightwater Valley