Take a look at our Bridgnorth
Listen to Michael Cleere's tour
The Bridgnorth Folk Festival.
Your Place index
provides a virtual home for Shropshire's towns and villages. Take a tour of the
Bridgnorth Castle Hill Railway website
offers lots of information, including how to get there and the history involved.|
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SOMETHING TO SAY?|
In its first month
of operation, over 50,000 passengers made use of the new service.|
tracks are 201 feet long, and rise a vertical height of 111 feet. The tracks have
a gauge of 3 foot six inches.
gradient, 1:1.8 (0r 33 degrees) is one of the steepest in the country.
volt, 32 hp electric motor powers the winding drum, which operates at 30 rpm.
from the tracks and winding cables, the current technical set up is practically
unchanged since 1955.
an average day, the cliff railway operates around 200 journeys. Each journey takes
around one and a quarter minutes.
stoneway steps are traditionally accepted to number 200.
But a recent count claims there are only 173!
built in 1892, you'd be mistaken for thinking that the funicular cliff railway
is simply a popular tourist attraction. In fact, the railway still provides an
indispensable service for anyone wishing to travel between High Town and Low Town.|
The only alternative to is to climb the 200 odd steps, or brave the narrow,
congested roads and hope that a parking space awaits you!
a virtual journey on the Castle Hill Railway
It might seem a stupid idea to build a town on two such extreme levels, but Bridgnorth
has flourished because of its geography, and not in spite of it.
down the track
High Town offered the castle a strategic view of the river; Low Town was built
alongside the port and the wealth that it brought in.
However, in 1890,
a town weary of climbing steps convened a public meeting and proposed the construction
of a railway to connect Bridgnorth's two halves.
By 1892, the work was
finished. Two pairs of 201 foot long tracks were set into the cliff's sandstone.
The gradient, 33 degrees, was one of the steepest in the country. Two wooden cars
were hauled by large steel cables, wound onto huge winding wheels.
is use of these steel cables (necessary because of the severe angle of the ascent)
which define the system as a 'funicular' railway.
Although the cliff
railway is now driven by electric engines, it was originally water-powered. A
30,000 gallon tank at the upper station would fill the top car, allowing it to
slowly descend and causing the lower car to rise. Once at the bottom station,
the water would be released, to be then pumped back up to the top station.
The railway was converted to electricity in 1943. Meanwhile, in 1955 the
heavy wooden cars were replaced by stronger and lighter aluminium designs. Fully
loaded with passengers, they were expected to weigh around five and a half tonnes.
At the same time, the winding gear was updated with a system popularly used at
The current set up is practically unchanged since 1955 (apart
from the tracks and winding cables), making it one of the most stylish means of
travel in the area. However, such equipment requires constant attention and Sunday
mornings are given over to regular maintenance.
The funicular railway is still owned by the town, but operated by a private company,
from the top station
husband and wife team Alan and Jean Reynolds.
The couple took over the running of the railway in 1995, initially as something
of a retirement project. However, running 362 days a year, the railway is quite
The service is at its busiest in summer months with
the large influx of tourists, and stays open 12 hours a day. Yet arguably it provides
an even more important service in winter, when weather conditions are poorer.
Even during those months locals can use the railway 10 and a half hours a day.
On an average day, the railway provides about 200 journeys, each taking about
one and a half minutes to complete.
Visit the Castle Hill Railway website
for more information.
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