Bridgnorth Castle Hill Railway

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For over a century Bridgnorth Cliff Railway has been transporting the people of Bridgnorth up and down the 111 ft sandstone cliffs that separate High Town from Low Town and the River Severn. It is first and foremost a working railway; its importance to both the townspeople of Bridgnorth and to visitors to the town is undiminished by age.

The railway operates two carriages on parallel tracks. Connected by steel cables, the carriages serve to counterbalance each other – as one rises to the top station, the other runs to the bottom station. The cars are now powered by an electric winding engine, but were originally driven by a system of water balance, each carriage carrying water ballast in a tank beneath the passenger compartment.

The Bridgnorth Cliff Railway or Castle Hill Railway is a cliff railway in Bridgnorth, Shropshire, England.

Looking down from the top station


Looking down from the top station

The railway links the High Town and Low Town areas of Bridgnorth. The track length is 201 ft (61.2 metres), with a gradient of 1 in 1.8 and a rise of 111 ft (33.8 metres) at an angle of 33 degrees. It is one of the steepest railways in the country, and at least one source (the information panel outside the top station) claims it is both the steepest and shortest.

It is one of four funicular railways in the UK built to the same basic design (the others were the Clifton Rocks Railway in Bristol; the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway in Devon; and the Constitution Hill Railway in Aberystwyth, Wales).

Following a public meeting in 1890 to discuss an alternative method of communication between the two parts of Bridgnorth to the 200 steps between High Town and Low Town, a proposal to build a Patent Cliff Railway was subsequently put to the town council and construction started on 2 November 1891.

The railway was opened on 7 July 1892 by Mayor William Burton. A public holiday was proclaimed to celebrate the occasion.

Originally the railway was powered by a simple system using water and gravity. Water was pumped into a 2000 imperial gallon (9000 litre) tank beneath the top car until its weight, a maximum of 11.5 long tons (11.7 metric tonnes ), overcame that of the lower car. When the car reached the bottom station the tank was emptied and pumped up to a 30,000 imperial gallon (136,000 litre) tank on the top of the upper station.

Between 1943 and 1944 the system was rebuilt to use electricity, with an official re-opening on 9 May 1944 by Mayor T.C. Pembro

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