The BABBACOMBE CLIFF RAILWAY
The cliff top walk at Babbacombe is the highest promenade in the country, with cliffs over 250 ft high. At either end of the promenade, below the cliffs are beaches- at the one end there is the ancient settlement of Babbacombe with the Cary Arms, a beach and a small pier and access down Beach Road, or down a pathway through the woods or a more ancient trackway from Walls Hill. At the other end is Oddicombe Beach which is a favourite beach with visitors and locals alike, access to this beach is via a very steep winding road (the road is used for motor sport in the form of the Oddicombe hill climb) a very steep winding pathway, or via the CLIFF RAILWAY
Oddicombe beach before development
Various schemes had been put forward over a number of years around the end of the 19th beginning of the 20th centuries. But it was not until the mid 1920s that the Cliff Railway was built by The Torquay Tramway Company who leased the land from the Torquay Council. The actual construction started in December 1924, was carried out by National Electric Construction Company (the parent company of Torquay Tramways) and completed in early 1926. The original cars and operating equipment were constructed by Waygood Otis Ltd (who were well known lift (elevator) manufacturers).
The completed railway was opened with much pomp & ceremony on 1st April 1926
When the Torquay Tramways ceased to operate in 1934 the Cliff railway was purchased by the Town Council for £18,000. The line was closed due to wartime restrictions in 1941 and remained so until 29th June 1951. Between the end of the war in 1945 and the reopening the whole railway was overhauled and major reconstruction work undertaken. The two cars were repainted, from the old tramway colours, into a new livery of green and cream. In 1955 two new cars were purchased each capable of carrying 40 standing passengers. In 1993 another major refurbishment took place and the track was replaced, the cars were then painted in the new Torbay Council corporate livery of yellow and blue.
Some facts and figures:-
The track length is 720ft
It ascends 240ft
the track gauge is 5ft 8ins
each car weighs 5 tons and travel at 500ft per minute.
The operating power is supplied by a 68kw generator which powers a 75hp lift motor which in turn drives a worm drive. The cars are connected to four cables which pass around the traction motor in the top station. Another four cables run from the cars and around pullies at the bottom station.
23rd November 2005, the two cars were lifted off the track and taken away for major refurbishment and rebuild, when they are returned they will be resplendent in the original colour scheme of maroon and cream - This is the first part of a commitment by Torbay Council to renovate the Cliff Railway using money from the sale of St Marychurch Town Hall. The second part also to be done this winter is to relay the track .
The plan is to have all this done, so that the railway will be fully operational before the 80th birthday celebration planned for 1st April 2006.
Unfortunately the refurbishment was not ready for 1st April, although one of the new carriages was on the track and painted in the new colour scheme of Maroon & Cream
Cliff Railway is now up & running
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