Victorian cliff tramway at Saltburn-by-the-Sea still proving popular

A visit to the coastal town of Saltburn-by-the-Sea is not complete without a delightfully quirky trip on its cliff tramway.
PIC: Jonathan GawthorpePIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

The oldest water balanced funicular still running in the whole of Britain, the ride takes passengers between the North Yorkshire clifftop town and its pleasure pier at sea level, 120ft below.

Each journey is said to last around 55 seconds.

Now a renowned attraction, the tramway has recently been lovingly refurbished.

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It reopened in August, transformed to its former Victorian glory, with original features restored.

Though it has been in place for 134 years, the cliff lift was not the first way people were transported between the town and sea front.

In 1870, just over a year after the pier opened, engineer John Anderson designed and built a vertical timber cliff hoist.

Up to 20 people were lowered down in a cage to sea level.

It operated for more than a decade, but following an inspection in 1883, its was deemed unsafe and a decision was made to demolish and replace it.

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The current tramway was designed and installed by George Croydon Marks in 1884 and operates by counterbalancing ascending and descending cars.

Its two cars are each fitted with a tank; water fills the container of the top carriage until it overbalances the mass of the carriage below and begins to travel down the incline.

Once the car reaches the bottom of the track, its water is then re-pumped to the top, starting the process again. An electrically operated pump was installed in 1924.

During the festive period, the tramway is a favourite for families, running a Santa’s Grotto that gives visitors the opportunity to meet Father Christmas and his elves whilst taking the ride.

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And with more than 150,000 people using the funicular each year, according to Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, it certainly remains a popular attraction.

Technical details: Nikon D5 Camera, 32mm lens 1/160th sec @ f/6.3 ISO 400