Marley Eternit shakes bring Alton Towers ride to life

Marley Eternit’s Western Red Cedar Shakes have been specified for the huts on Alton Towers Resort’s latest attraction, Wicker Man, which opened in March

Wicker Man is the UK’s first new wooden rollercoaster to be built in over 20 years, and the first ever to combine fire and wood. Costing over £16 million to build, it offers riders a truly immersive experience, with a fiery twist.

The setting for Wicker Man is the world of the Beornen, a fictional community living in the woods around Alton, Staffordshire who have built the wicker deity in the hope of achieving eternal wellbeing.

The ride features a number of huts located around its wooden track, all of which used Marley Eternit’s Western Red Cedar Shakes in order to continue the woodland theming.

As part of the project, Marley Eternit supplied 327 bundles of its Blue Label Western Red Cedar Shakes, which were used to create over 800m2 of roofing as part of the Wicker Man attraction.

The construction of the unique ride was project managed by Neil Walker, at Merlin Entertainment who comments:

“The task of building a rollercoaster which combines fire and wood required careful planning in order to bring our vision to life. However, for us, it’s not just about creating the ride itself but also theming its surroundings to deliver a truly immersive experience to our guests.”

“The structures including the ride station, pre-show theatre and retail unit are a key part of the ride, so it was crucial to us that they were in keeping with the rest of the ride. It was tricky to find a product that worked aesthetically and would also be enduring. We were thrilled to find a local supplier who could deliver just what we needed.”

The solution

Alton Towers specified Marley Eternit’s Shakes for the huts due to the robust finish they deliver, and the reassurance provided by the accreditation to the Certi-Grade quality assurance label, as certified by the Cedar Shingle and Shake Bureau (CSSB). The shakes also require low maintenance and blend into the wider surroundings, so were deemed an ideal choice.

Furthermore, the Western Red Cedar Shakes also have one of the lowest carbon footprints of any widely used building product, representing a net carbon sink upon delivery, which means more carbon is stored in the shake than is emitted during its harvest, manufacture and transportation combined.

Marley Eternit’s Western Red Cedar Shakes used on Wicker Man were also treated with JB FRT Exterior, which gives them a fire classification to BS 476-3, the same as a clay tile, for added reassurance and the protection of the visitors.

In addition, shakes are light to transport, and quick to install on site which was important to the project designers, when looking to minimise the impact on the wider theme park.

Daniel Redfern from Marley Eternit, says: “It was crucial the new huts were designed sensitively to blend into the wider design of the Wicker Man ride, complementing the overall aesthetic Merlin was keen to achieve. In commercial projects such as this, the lightweight nature of our Shakes, together with their ease of installation, play an important role in ensuring they were able to meet the deadline.”

Find out more about using Shingles and Shakes from Marley Eternit for heritage, conservation and prestige projects.

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