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Working in the Clouds at the Snowdon Summit Visitor Centre

We were called recently to look at a specialist system in the highest building in the UK.  The Snowdon Summit Visitor Centre is the UK’s highest visitor centre and is operated by the Snowdon Mountain Railway.  Two of our engineers were among the half a million visitors who walk or catch the train to the top each year.  However, ours were catching the early morning staff train from Llanberis and had to make doubly sure they didn’t leave any tools behind – not very easy to pop back to the van when it’s a kilometre below!


Snowdon Heating Adventure


The train travels for more than four miles as it climbs to the summit and takes usually an hour to summit the mountain.  Snowdon is covered by cloud on average four out of five days, and the view for our engineers disappeared the higher the train climbed.  If the day is clear, then they might have seen as far as the Isle of Man or even Ireland. The journey to this job is not our usual method of transport and the views were fantastic.

Snowdon Heating Job


The building is decommissioned in winter, due to the harsh conditions at the summit means all of the heating and hot water systems are fully drained and every last drop of water is removed from the system pipework, radiators, pumps and valves. The building has been known to get down to -30°c in winter, so a hostile environment especially for any water based systems used within the visitor centre. This in itself is a major task using compressed air to remove any element of water which can sit within the pipework, valves and pumps. So we knew we would have some challenges upon reaching the summit.

Mountain Railway Snowdon


So the route to the summit provided us with some time to think about the tasks that await within the visitor centre our host also presented us with drawings and manuals to study and of course the opportunity to take in the views of the Snowdonia mountain range. As altitude was gained the temperature certainly dropped which was to be expected but we were well prepared.

Snowdon Summit Route


Nearing the the end of our climb soon became apparent how very different conditions were compared with the weather in Llanberis, lucky for us we had chosen to attend on a day where the weather was being very kind to us and soon enough the clouds opened up and the views Snowdon can offer were presented to us in all their glory.

Summit of Snowdon


So we our engineers met with Mike Robertshaw the Senior Engineering Manager to discuss the issues they were having onsite and our engineers soon got to work studying the installation drawings and examining the systems onsite. The heat source being the diesel powered electrical generators which as a by product provides the hot water to a heat storage vessel where it is transferred into many different services onsite such as heating, hot water to the kitchens, toilets and the ventilation air handling units onsite.

Snowdon Summit Cafe Heating


By the afternoon we had resolved many of the problems identified during our time onsite and restored heating to the radiators which was the main objective. Working with the engineers from the Snowdon Mountain Railway we have passed on useful knowledge to their engineers so they better understand what to look out for along with some handy maintenance tasks which could be carried out in house going forward.

Having Lunch on Snowdon


Our engineers enjoy being challenged with this very bespoke system and working within the challenging environment did make for an interesting day in work. We often undertake unusual tasks in challenging locations from large Castles in North Wales to the heating systems on Boats that transport the engineers to the offshore wind farms. We are now pleased to add this one to our portfolio.

Summit Selfie


We couldn’t resist one final selfie before descending back to the station – mission accomplished. It was a long 10 hour day for our engineers but they certainly enjoyed the varied work they were tasked with this week.  We were pleased to work with a new client and we look forward to being able to offer them with our specialist services that Evans Maintenance provide going forward.

Managing Director Tim Evans said: “We were pleased to have been selected by Mike Robertshaw, Senior Engineering Manager to The Snowdon Mountain Railway to assist with their heating requirements having found us to be most suitable after finding our website. It has given us the perfect platform to demonstrate our engineers technical ability and while being flexible in understanding and adapting to a bespoke installation such as this one which stands at 3560ft above sea level.”

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