Ex-miner returns to former colliery to ride Zip World line for first time with instructor daughter

  • Video report by ITV Wales journalist Katie Fenton

An ex-miner who worked at Tower Colliery for 22 years has returned to experience it as a zip line tourist attraction for the first time.

Andrew Brookman, from Hirwaun, descended the 1.5km zip line - the fastest seated zip line in the world - with his daughter Samantha, who now works there as an instructor.

Tower Colliery in Hirwaun was the oldest continuously working deep coal mine in the UK.

Mr Brookman was one of 239 miners who spent their own redundancy money to buy out the pit when it was threatened with closure in the nineties.

It remained open for another 13 years before closing in 2008 and reopening as Zip World in 2021.

Credit: ITV Wales

The ex-miner said he was glad to see his former workplace thriving again after 15 years.

"I've got to be honest if it hadn't closed I'd still be here now," he said.

"I'd have stayed until I retired, the comradeship, everything, great bunch of boys to work with.

"I miss it, I do miss it sorely. But they've done a really good job and it's nice to see the place alive again."

But now a second generation of the same family is working there, taking on a very different role to her dad.

Samantha Manning used to be a carer but changed career after being diagnosed with, and beating, cancer.

Working at the Tower holds a sense of nostalgia for Ms Manning, who said she appreciates how the site's new purpose is helping bring visitors to the local area.

Mr Brookman worked at Tower Colliery for 22 years and said if it had not closed down, he would still be working there now.

She said: "This is right on my doorstep, my dad used to work here and I thought it was really cool that I had 'Tower' on my paycheck as well as he did so that's kind of what drove me here.

"There's memories here from when I was younger, it brought people together when it was a colliery. But I like working up here now because it brings people here, it brings tourism and it really has made a difference."

Other Welsh landmarks and heritage sites, like Big Pit coal mine and the Blaenavon Ironworks, have been repurposed as visitor attractions for several years.

It is something the chief executive of Zip World, Adrian Jones, says benefits more than just local job prospects.

Credit: ITV Wales

He said: "Sites are a catalyst to bring tourism and short break propositions with accommodation, looking at local restaurants and things.

"So it's more than just a job provider it's actually a catalyst for economic development and change in a region."

The tourism sector is worth around £6 billion to the Welsh economy and, together with hospitality, employs more than 10 percent of Welsh workers.

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