Bridgnorth Cliff Railway

Published June 24, 2015

Had the pleasure of visiting the pretty town of Brignorth earlier this month and, of course, the highlight had to be a ride on what is claimed to be the steepest cliff railway in England. It certainly seems steep when you are in a car looking down at the lower station!

Looking over the Severn Bridge at Bridgnorth towards the Cliff Railway

Looking over the Severn Bridge at Bridgnorth towards the Cliff Railway

Bridgnorth is built on two levels with the Low Town stradling the river Severn and the castle and the rest of the High Town 111ft above.

The picture on the left shows the path of the railway. The upper station is top centre with the pointed roofs with one of the white and blue cars alongside (just above the flags) and the lower station roof being just above the traffic light on the left.

The railway opened on 7th July 1892 and saved climbing the 200 steps between the two parts of the town. Between July and September 1892 it carried over 50,000 passengers.

Originally water powered with tanks under the cars counterbalancing each other it was converted to electric when the water pumps reached the end of their life in 1943-4. One of the benefits was the doubling the speed of travel!

The double tracks are now constructed from standard bull head rails from around 1972 with a gauge of 3 ft 6 ins.

One of the interestingly shaped cars dating from 1955

One of the interestingly shaped cars at the top station

The original cars were wooden on a steel chassis which lasted until 1955 when the cars were replaced with the “up-to-date” lighter aluminum monocoque cars pictured on the right. The unpadded slatted wood seats run down the length of the car on each side. However your posterior will not suffer as it is not a long trip. You probably spend longer waiting for the cars to leave than the journey itself!

For those concerned with safety the railway has 3 braking systems and 3 ropes each with a breaking strain of 58 tonnes (the cars weigh around 5.5 tonnes with a full compliment of 18 passengers) which are carefully checked every 6 months and replaced every 5-7 years.

The Bridgnorth Castle Hill Railway Company’s web site is very informative.

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