Scarborough cliff lift Central Tramway to close for three months for biggest engineering project in 50 years

A chassis that has been operational since the 1930s will be replaced during engineering works at the Central Tramway Company in Scarborough in the new year.

The oldest cliff lift in the town will be shut from January until March while the biggest overhaul in 50 years takes place at the funicular railway.

Some of the tramway's infrastructure dates back to the early 20th century, when the 140-year-old system was first converted from steam to electric power.

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The 1930s chassis will be fully replaced, new emergency brakes that can be computer-controlled fitted, and the carriages refurbished for the first time since the Olympia fire damaged the tramway in the 1980s.

Central Tramway Company chairman Neil Purshouse said; “This is a huge project for us, but it’s essential if we are to keep running for another 140 years. Our first priority is safety, and we’re always looking for ways to improve and upgrade the machinery. Our location and exposure to the elements means that the moving parts do suffer from the weather. Like all of us, the tramway needs some extra care and attention in its old age.”

General manager Helen Galvin joined the team at Central Tramway this year, and already appreciates the importance of the cliff railway for both locals and visitors.

“The plan is to be open again for Easter. We’ve scheduled the works for the quietest time, but we appreciate that the three-month closure will affect many of our visitors who enjoy visiting Scarborough during the less busy months.”

The initial work will involve the removal of the carriages and chassis by a large 50-tonne crane on Foreshore Road on January 12.

The tramway will remain open throughout the Christmas and New Year holiday (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) until January 3 when it will close for the work. Reopening is scheduled for the end of March with a final date still to be confirmed.

The Central Tramway is the oldest funicular railway company in the country and one of the two surviving cliff lifts in the resort, which in its heyday had five separate routes.

It's been operating since 1881 and is still owned by the same company that first registered it.

Originally steam-powered, it was electrified in 1920 but has undergone surprisingly few technological upgrades since before World War Two, and the two carriages have been in service since the 1970s.