The historic attraction that is Babbacombe Cliff Railway has, like many others in the area, had a stormy start to the year. The freak weather conditions in February broke through the doors to the Visitor Centre down on Oddicombe Beach. A group consisting of some of the Directors and other local people managed to get together in the early hours of the morning during low tide to empty as many of the contents as possible before retreating to let high tide do its worst. As soon as power is restored work will begin on drying the centre out and getting it ready to open again as soon as possible.
In the meantime, as part of its ongoing programme of modernisation the Cliff Railway has a new website which will be far easier for holidaymakers to navigate as the responsive design means that it works well on smart phones, tablets, etc. Babbacombe Cliff Railway Community Interest Company Chairman, John Ayres, said “Whilst the Cliff Railway is well-used by local people we are delighted by how many holidaymakers come to visit us each year. We were aware that our previous website was not suitable for the wide range of devices that people now use to go on-line so we thought it was time for an update.” He added “I’m really pleased with the new version that we now have. Not only is it mobile friendly it is also easily update-able and our staff have received training so that we can now make sure it has all the latest news on it which will also be very helpful for anyone planning to visit us or those wanting to keep up to date with what’s happening.”
Phil Allen of local web design company, Studio Devon, was tasked with the job of providing the new mobile-friendly, fresh, update-able design and John said “It’s always nice to be able to work with other local businesses and we’re very happy with the finished product that Phil has given us.” To view the new website on your PC, laptop, tablet or smart phone visit www.babbacombecliffrailway.co.uk As well as the new website you can also keep up to date with all the latest news from the Cliff Railway via Facebook at www.facebook.com/babbcliffrail or by following the Twitter feed @BabbCliffRail
In the meantime, the Cliff Railway itself opened for business at half-term and visitor numbers have been up on last year. John said “We had some lovely sunshine which, after all the terrible weather, brought people out in droves. But I also think that everyone had seen so much coverage of all the coastal damage in the press and on the television that they wanted to see for themselves how their local beach was faring.”
Oddicombe Beach Café was also badly damaged during the storms, along with the esplanade itself. In a bid to provide some extra services the Cliff Railway is now offering free tea and coffee to visitors at the bottom station and this is proving popular. John says “Despite the damage to the esplanade and buildings Oddicombe is still a lovely beach for a bit of fresh air on a spring day and we are obviously keen to encourage people to use the railway and enjoy some sea air. While the café is out of action we thought that giving people the opportunity to still enjoy a coffee or tea would be a nice idea.”
Babbacombe Cliff Railway is open daily from 9.30am. Prices are just £1.40 return for children, £2 return for adults and £5.90 for a family return ticket.
Babbacombe Cliff Railway put on a lovely Christmas Sparkle event in December. Building on the success of previous Christmas events held at the Cliff Railway, member of staff, Sarah Foley, took on the task of organising this year’s activities and had all sorts of exciting things on offer for the children. The idea was to do something a bit different, giving the children that visit the chance to get creative and make something special to take home with them, as well as writing and posting their letter to Father Christmas. As part of her plan she had a vision of a sleigh and reindeer to greet children as they arrived for a bit of Cliff Railway sparkle.
Needless to say, such accessories are in pretty big demand as the festive season draws near and when Sarah was put in touch with South Devon college lecturer Jonny Standing things started to look up. Jonny said that his Carpentry Level 1 students would gladly take on the project and they set to work creating a magical reindeer and sleigh for the Cliff Railway to use. Sarah said “I am thrilled with it. It’s even better than I imagined and the students have all worked so hard. We’re really grateful to them all.”
Jonny said “The students really enjoyed working on the reindeer and sleigh. It’s great for them to make something that they know will be used and enjoyed by others. It’s also particularly nice to work within the community and I was over the moon with the way the students liaised with the Cliff Railway and managed the project from start to finish in their teams, working as an effective production line. It’s amazing that they have only been on the carpentry course for ten weeks.” The project inspired Jonny to offer the service to local schools and the students have now made 19 reindeer for various schools including Priory School, Coombe Pafford, Watcombe and Furzeham Primary with the schoolchildren painting them as part of a competition.
Once created the project was handed over to the Painting and Decorating department where Paul Robbins and his Level 1 students took on the job of painting and varnishing it. The finished reindeer and sleigh was unveiled at Babbacombe Cliff Railway’s Christmas Sparkle event and was hugely popular with lots of the children posing in the sleigh for photos.
With story-telling, music and sing-alongs, crafts and gifts for all the children, this event was a huge, festive success.
Babbacombe Cliff Railway Visitor Centre on Oddicombe Beach has unfortunately fallen victim to the incredible, destructive weather that is currently hitting the South Devon coast. The doors were smashed in and many of the contents lost to sea. In a brief let-up in the weather some of the team were able to access the Centre and remove all the remaining contents so it is now completely empty. At this moment in time it is inaccessible due to the size of the freak waves that are crashing along the shoreline. When the waves allow later today we will board up the building as best we can to prevent further damage. This is obviously extremely disappointing news but we are being positive. Fortunately no-one was hurt and we will get a Visitor Centre up and running again as soon as we can. However, this may take some time so please bear with us. Thanks to everyone for all their messages of support and offers of help.
The Babbacombe Cliff Railway website is changing.
The new website will be just as informative and striking but will also work a lot better on your tablet or smartphone.