Celebrations at Babbacombe Cliff Railway

Babbacombe Cliff Railway, which has been transporting people from up on Babbacombe Downs down to the secluded Oddicombe Beach opened in 1926. However, since 2009 this historic attraction has been owned by the community. Over that time Babbacombe Cliff Railway has been lucky enough to have an amazing team of passionate, dedicated people who have all been committed to their role as custodians of this fabulous, historic piece of engineering and who have also been determined to ensure that the railway thrives and that its future is safe. As well as the core team of staff and volunteers many local businesses and individuals have played their part in the success of the past decade.
On Friday 8 March a party was held to celebrate just that. Over 100 people attended an evening at The Anchorage Hotel with entertainment, food, drink, great company and happy atmosphere. Lindsay Yelland, Chairman of Babbacombe Cliff Railway, said “Although the community didn’t technically take ownership of the railway until August 2009 we decided that this was worth a whole year of celebration, rather than simply one day. So, we started with a party and have lots more things planned as the year progresses. With so many people being a part of our story we thought it would be lovely to have a get-together to appreciate quite what has been achieved and have an opportunity to look ahead to a successful future.”
Lindsay added “It was great to see so many people at the event and, while I am the current Chairman of Babbacombe Cliff Railway, the party was also to celebrate the work of previous Chairman, John Ayres, who sadly passed away last year. John was the driving force of our team for many years and had a passion and dedication that was second to none. Without him, the railway simply would not be the success it is today. Our job now is to continue John’s work and to ensure a successful future for Babbacombe Cliff Railway.”
Much has changed during the past ten years and the railway now runs more than ever before. It is open seven days a week virtually all year round, stopping for only a few weeks of maintenance at the beginning of each year. In the ten years of community ownership there have been many changes, huge investment, with over £500,000 being spent on maintenance, and a host of great events. This increasingly popular attraction saw over 135,000 people visit in 2018.
The railway also now boasts a Visitor Centre down on Oddicombe Beach which is free to look around. This fantastic facility has story boards charting the history of the railway, interesting exhibits and a film to watch. Manned entirely by volunteers the centre is open from around Easter right through until winter.
For now, next on the agenda for this busy team is Cliff Railway Day on Saturday 11 May. Lindsay said “For Cliff Railway Day this year we have a very simple offer. Free travel. All day. For everyone. We are delighted by the success of our railway and want to thank all those who have travelled with us over the years. And what better way to do that than with free travel? Also, if people haven’t travelled with us before, this seems like a perfect opportunity for them to do so.”Later in the year, Saturday 8 June sees Oddicombe Beach filled with music and laughter as “The John Ayres Ukulele Proms” takes centre stage. Then, the hugely entertaining “Last Team Standing” will be back on Saturday 14 September for plenty of family fun.