Babbacombe Cliff Railway

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A car of the cliff railway
The lower station of the cliff railway

Babbacombe Cliff Railway, also known as the Babbacombe Cliff Lift, is a funicular railway in the town of Torquay in the English county of Devon. It links Babbacombe Downs with Oddicombe Beach. The line runs every day, with a closure period in winter for maintenance. The first car runs at 09:30, and the last at 17:30. A bell is rung 30 and 15 minutes before closing.[1][2]


In February 1923, the Torquay Tramway Company commissioned Waygood-Otis Ltd with the engineering and construction of the railway. Construction started in 1924, and the line was first opened on 1 April 1926. The line cost £15,648 to construct. The tramway company continued to work the line until 13 March 1935, when it was taken over by Torquay Borough Council. The line was closed in 1941, due to World War II security restrictions, and reopened in 1951 after modernisation by Messrs J & E Hall of Dartford. The railway underwent further refurbishment in 1993 and a three-year programme of renovation commenced in November 2005.[3]

In July 2009, the ownership of the line was transferred from Torbay Council, who had inherited ownership from Torquay Borough Council as a result of local government reorganisation, to a specially created community interest company.[4] In 2019, the CIC converted to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation.[5]


  • Two cars of traditional funicular design with a 40-person standing capacity
  • 720-foot (220 m) track with a 5 ft 8 in (1,727 mm) gauge
  • Rated speed of 2.5 metres per second (8.2 ft/s)
  • Drive equipment located at the top station
  • Direct current wattage drive system, incorporating servomotor-operated controller
  • Hoisting ropes attached to upper ends of car chassis, supplemented by a compensating rope system to load balance for car position on track


On 4 September 2022, An engineer from the railway was killed in what was described as an industrial accident.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Prices & Opening Times". Babbacome Cliff Railway. Archived from the original on 3 January 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  2. ^ "Babbacombe Cliff Lift". South Western Electricity Historical Society. Archived from the original on 13 July 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2017.
  3. ^ "History". Babbacome Cliff Railway. Archived from the original on 3 January 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Cliff railway company set to take over". Torquay Herald Express. 30 June 2009. Archived from the original on 3 January 2017. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Recently registered charity - Babbacombe Cliff Railway CIO". Charity Commission for England and Wales. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  6. ^ "Babbacombe: Engineer dies in coastal cliff railway incident". BBC News. Retrieved 5 September 2022.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 50°28′54″N 3°31′00″W / 50.4816°N 3.5166°W / 50.4816; -3.5166