Babbacombe Cliff Railway, which has been transporting people from up on Babbacombe Downs to the secluded Oddicombe Beach since 1926, has re-opened after being shut since Christmas undergoing a major, £100,000 refurbishment including the purchase and installation of two new carriages. Manufactured in stainless steel they are of the same design as those being replaced but are expected to have a much longer life and with stand up better to the environment.
The work has been carried out by specialist contractors and has been quite a juggling act with lots of different companies and people involved. While the carriages themselves are brand new, various other parts have either been sent away for refurbishment and adjustment or serviced on site. A lot has also been done to improve the efficiency and safety of the running gear together with re-cabling the top section of the hauling ropes.
Babbacombe Cliff Railway is owned and run by a Community Interest Company (CIC) and this project was part of the company’s continuing commitment to constantly maintain the railway in the best possible condition and to ensure that the all the safety features are in perfect working order. The work has been financed from ticket and merchandise sales.
Babbacombe Cliff Railway CIC Chairman, John Ayres, said “The CIC took over the running of Babbacombe Cliff Railway nearly 8 years ago. We are delighted that the business is thriving and that we were in a position to be able to afford to carry out this considerable project. In 2016 we carried around 120,000 passengers. Not a bad way to celebrate our 90th anniversary.” John added “We are used extensively by locals and holidaymakers and really did appreciate the public’s patience while we were closed but it was necessary to coordinate five specialist contractors to get this work completed.”
Babbacombe Cliff Railway was running again in time for the all-important Easter holidays and has been indundated with passengers ever since. Cliff Railway Marketing Manager, Nicky Allen, said “Oddicombe Beach is a real destination again these days. Anyone who has been down to Oddicombe Beach over the past couple of years will have noticed the transformation of the area. With the stunning beach bar and bistro and the rebuilt beach huts Oddicombe really is a lovely place to be. We experienced a record-breaking year in 2016 and it was lovely to have so many people enjoy the beach, the activities and some of the wonderful events we had down there. The truth is we don’t expect that demand to dwindle in 2017 and this project, giving us new carriages and a great refurbishment, means that we should be able to continue transporting people up and down the cliffs, in the style they’ve become accustomed to, for a very long time to come.”
The railway runs on demand so there is never a long wait to travel and a bell is rung before the final carriages of the day giving plenty of time for those on the beach to board and relax as they are transported up the cliff.
A film was made of the new carriages being installed, including some great footage of the area itself. This can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pE1m1us_BRQ