Teesside cliff lift carriages removed for £30,000 refit

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Image caption,
A delicate operation saw the carriages removed from the tracks

Carriages on a Teesside water-powered cliff lift are being refitted for the first time in almost 20 years.

The Victorian funicular at Saltburn, on Teesside opened in June 1884 to transport people from the town's pier up the steep incline to the cliff top.

A £30,000 overhaul of the system's two carriages is being funded by Redcar and Cleveland Council.

A crane was used to remove the carriages, which have been taken to a specialist firm in Northumberland.

They are scheduled return in time for the start of the 2011 tourist season.

The renovation will see improved seating and the striking stained glass windows sealed.

An intercom system will also be installed to allow drivers at either end of the railway to communicate with passengers.

Sheelagh Clarke, Redcar and Cleveland Council's cabinet member for culture, leisure and tourism, said, "It's like a lot of us, it's getting older and it needs a few nips and tucks and a bit more make-up and that's what we are doing.

"We've had a plan in place to maintain it, because it's unique and we need to keep it going for the next 100 years."

The carriages have not been removed since about 1991.

Water tanks

The lift's two cars are each fitted with a water tank and run on parallel tracks.

The car at the top has its tank filled with water until it overbalances the weight of the car and proceeds down the incline.

When the car reaches the bottom its water is re-pumped to the top and the process begins all over again.

The entire operation is controlled by the brake man from a cabin at the top of the lift.

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