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TECHNICAL DETAILS OF THE BABBACOMBE CLIFF RAILWAY

 

We are indebted to Brett Townsend (formerly of Torquay and for many years a keen traveller on this railway) for these details and for his photographs which appear below

 

Babbacombe Cliff Railway
© Brett Townsend 2007

 

Length   716 feet

Vertical rise   240 feet

Gradient   1 in 2.48

Opened (private ownership)   April 1926

Opened (Corporation ownership)  March 1935

Closed (Wartime)  October 1941

Cliff Railway descending
© Brett Townsend 2007

 

 

Another view of Babbacombe Cliff Railway

Reopened:

 June 1951 after refurbishment costing £10,000. A further £60,000 refurbishment was undertaken from Autumn 1993 and Spring 1995. Another complete refurbishment was carried out in 2005 and the railway finally re-opened in June 2006.

Cost when new:    £15, 648

Gauge:    

5 ft 8 ins; 2 tracks (The original gauge was 5ft 10 ins)

© Brett Townsend 2007

 

Cars:

One on each track, linked by wire ropes through the top station for drive and also linked through the bottom station for stability.

The cars were replaced in 1955 and again in 2006. The present cars were made by Embankment Engineering of Beckenham, Kent.

Original motor:

Supplied by J & E Hall Ltd. 85bhp 300v dc

Current motor:

A 68 kw generator runs the 75 hp  lift motor which is sited below the top station.

Close up of one of the cars

 

© Brett Townsend 2007

 

Scale of charges for travelling on the railway

© Brett Townsend 2007

 

Speed (original)   500 feet per second

Wire ropes: There are 4 of 2½ inch circumference, each rated at 20 tons and able to take 4 times the maximum car load.

Load (original): 14 seated and 6 standing passengers

Load (1955 cars): 14 seated and 26 standing

Construction:

Waygood Otis Ltd with Torquay Corporation, for the National Electric Construction Co.

Operated by Torquay Tramways Co (1926); Torquay Corporation (1935).

 

Halfway down the cliff
© Brett Townsend 2007

 

This Cliff Railway was commenced in 1923-24.  Earlier projects planned for the site came to nought.  The railway takes passengers from Babbacombe Downs to the lower station which is just above Oddicombe Beach.  There is a road which zig zags nearby but access restrictions and a lack of parking at the beach make the railway the only practical way to avoid the climb up the path which also runs nearby.

In the post war peak there were 800,000 passengers a season but now figure of 250,000 is typical.

 

The winter closure of the railway

Throughout the winter months, the Babbacombe Cliff Railway remains closed until the coming of Spring brings the first passengers of 2008.

© Richard Brine

 

The Railway is now licensed as a wedding venue! For more details contact

www.torbay.gov.uk/index/community/register-office

On the opening page select Approved premises in Torbay to read more

 

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