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From Coal to Coves: Former English industrial & mining towns turn to wave pools

Manchester, in the northwest of England, has been approved to receive the country’s next wave pool. While Deal, Kent in the southeast, once England’s busiest port town and host of a former coal mine, is expected to formally submit plans for a surf tub and associated hotel early next year.

Manchester – Modern Surf

Manchester was a hub of the industrial revolution as well as fostering computer innovation. It’s also a heavy-hitter in the music world; home to The Buzzcocks, The Smiths, Joy Division, Oasis and many more guitar wielders. It harbors football teams Manchester United and Manchester City – who hate each other with such vitriol that if you walk into the wrong part of town wearing the wrong colors you’re not likely to come out. Vertically anyway. Hate is the closest passion to love, but we’ll let the residents sort that one out. Just go surf!

So whether you’re into tech, business, music or football – and now surfing – Manchester’s got to be a pretty good spot to be.

The McKinney Group has been given the go-ahead by town planners to start construction on a £60m surf pool in Manchester’s Trafford City. The wave will be powered by Wavegarden tech with the Modern Surf complex also hosting a restaurant terrace, pop-up beach bars and a surf shop. The Wavegarden Cove will also be surrounded by a fitness zone, skate park, pump track and other “action activities.” Completion is planned for 2023.

“We’re delighted that Trafford Council has approved our proposals for Modern Surf and are very grateful to local residents for the extraordinary level of support we have received,” said Managing Director Billy McKinney. “Modern Surf will complement the already excellent leisure-based activities in Trafford City and help to inspire the next generation of surfers and athletes. We hope to create 100 jobs when operational as well as supporting many more during the construction phase.”

Modern Surf Manchester

Location: Stretford, Manchester, UK

The Lowdown: £60m outdoor wave pool near the Trafford Centre. A Belfast-based property developer, McKinney Group, has been granted permission to build. The plans call for a full-size Wavegarden Cove surrounded by a fitness zone, skate park, pump track and other “action activities.” Amenities will include a bar, restaurant and surf shop.

WavePool Construction Progress: Project given a green light.

Accessibility: Not yet built or even open to the public.

Type of wave(s): The cove produces everything from gentle knee-high rollers to head-high slabs via their top-secret machinery.

Wave Generating Technology: Wavegarden Cove Technology

Wave’s Technical Information: Wave height: 2-7 ft, Both left and right breaks, length of wave: 30-100 yards/meters depending on the size of the Cove pool

Hours of operation/Seasonal Hours: Unavailable, but we’ll keep you posted

Price Breakdown: None yet

Waves per hour: 11-900 waves per hour

During its heyday, coal from Kent fueled much of London

Deal, Kent County

The site for a just-announced Wavegarden project is the former Betteshanger Colliery, which was the largest coal mine in Kent (southeast England) before being closed in 1989. After the coal industry pretty much shut down throughout the UK, the ‘90s were hard times for many in this part of the country. Coal mining had employed a good percentage of the population for generations.

“It’s great to see a new beginning for an area that’s been sad and desolate for so long. It’ll bring jobs, and I think a sense of pride back to the area too. New tech and maybe new passions,” said Michael King, surfer and Kent county resident.

A company named Quinn Estates is planning to bring the wave pool project to the area.

“We want to create a wave garden which is a unique surf facility and experience,” said Chief executive Mark Quinn. “There’s none in the southeast of England and you’re only allowed one in each key area and this would be the one for the southeast.”

Kent County borders greater London. Making this pool quick to access for London-based wave-starved surfers. A huge boon for this project. Deal also marks where the waters of the English Channel and the North Sea meet and is only 25 miles from France.

“We anticipate that we could be looking at transforming our visitor-level numbers from 170,000 a year towards 700,000 a year with the creation of this facility.” Continues Mark. “It creates hundreds of jobs and creates a huge amount of opportunity for every type of person to be able to join in and enjoy the benefits of surfing, bodyboarding, all the things this Wave Garden allows you to do.”

Also included in the plans to overhaul Betteshanger is a new 5-star hotel, with 56 rooms and an outdoor swimming pool. Mr Quinn said it would bring a slice of “luxury and quality” to the area.

Media releases and reports (which are few at the moment) are pointing to an almost carbon copy of the Bristol facility ‘The Wave’. We’ll let you know as the details are clarified.

Betteshanger Country Park, Deal, Kent, UK

The Lowdown: Outdoor wave pool with the 5-star hotel (56 rooms)

WavePool Construction Progress: Project plans yet to be submitted

Accessibility: Not yet built or even open to the public.

Type of wave(s): The Cove produces everything from gentle knee-high rollers to head-high slabs via their top-secret machinery.

Wave Generating Technology: Wavegarden Cove Technology

Wave’s Technical Information: Wave height: 2-7 ft, Both left and right breaks, length of wave: 30-100 yards/meters depending on the size of the Cove pool

Hours of operation/Seasonal Hours: Unavailable, but we’ll keep you posted

Price Breakdown: None yet

Waves per hour: 11-900 waves per hour

It’s worth noting that England is now set to become the wave pool capital of the world. With The Wave at Bristol, the Surf Snowdonia tub across the border in Wales, Manchester now approved, Deal on the horizon, plus projects in Southport, Edinburgh, London, Bournemouth, Milton Keynes and Coleshill near Birmingham, there could well be a total of ten surf pools in the United Kingdom by 2024 if all goes to plan. Imagine taking a two-week trip to surf ten wave pools? This tantalizing travel plan could well become a reality.


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