Southend Cliff Railway

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Southend Cliff Railway
Southend Cliff Railway
Southend-on-Sea Cliff Lift, view from top station across Thames Estuary, Pleasure Pier in the background.

The Southend Cliff Railway, or Southend Cliff Lift, is a funicular in the English seaside resort of Southend-on-Sea, constructed in 1912.[1][2] The lift operated for the first time on Bank Holiday Monday, in August of that year.[3]

Technical details[edit]

The line is owned and operated by the Museums Service of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, and has the following technical parameters:[1][2][4]

  • Length: 130 feet (40 m)
  • Height difference: 57 feet (17 m)
  • Gradient: 43,4%
  • Cars: 1
  • Capacity: 12 passengers per car
  • Configuration: Single track, with separate counterweight track
  • Main track gauge: 4 ft 6 in (1,372 mm)
  • Counterweight track gauge: 21 in (533 mm)
  • Traction: Electricity

The line has an unusual configuration, as it runs on a single-track elevated structure. The counterweight track runs within this structure, immediately below the main track that carries the passenger car.[1][2]


The line operates daily in summer between 1000 and 1700. A fare of one pound return for adults is charged,[citation needed] concessions are fifty pence return. Full fare pricing and winter opening hours can be found at /[5]


The line runs on the site of a pioneering moving walkway, a forerunner of today's escalator. This was constructed in 1901 by the American engineer Jesse W. Reno, but soon proved noisy and unreliable due its exposed location.[3] The current lift was constructed by Waygood & Company,[3] now part of the famous Otis Elevator Company. Since opening in 1912 it has been modernised three times, in 1930, 1959 and 1990. Each modernisation has resulted in the replacement of the car.[2]

In 2003 the line was closed due to technical problems, and refurbishment was undertaken on the stations. However during the time that it was closed, the regulations governing its operation changed, requiring modifications before it could be reopened.[citation needed] The line finally re-opened on 25 May 2010, after a restoration costing a total of £3 million, £650,000 on the car alone.[5][6][7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Southend Pier Railway". Retrieved 2008-03-09. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Southend Cliff Railway". The Heritage Trail. Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  3. ^ a b c Southend Museums Service (2010). Cliff Lift History (LEAFLET). Southend-on-Sea: Southend Museums Service. 
  4. ^ "Southend Lift". Retrieved 2009-05-15. 
  5. ^ a b "Historic cliff lift reopens following refurbishment". BBC. 2010-05-25. Retrieved 2010-08-16. 
  6. ^ "Cliff Lift". Southend-on-Sea Borough Council. 2009-02-02. Retrieved 2009-05-18. [dead link]
  7. ^ Percival, Geoff (2008-05-13). "Cliffs Lift to remain closed another year". Echo. Newsquest Media Group. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°32′01″N 0°42′39″E / 51.533738°N 0.71093°E / 51.533738; 0.71093