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The Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Valley Railway

Victorian lift offers water-powered ups and downs.

News 1966 5 mins

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TV reporter Clive Gunnell is on the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway in North Devon. The water-powered funicular railway is unique and run using water from the nearby River Lyn and travelling up and down between Lynton five hundred feet up on the top of the cliff and the harbour village of Lynmouth. The two cable cars use gravity and water tanks to move up and down. The lift displaces water only if its needs to becuase it is also dependent on the weight of its passengers!

Fortuitously enshrined in law is the right to refill the water tanks because the lift works on a total loss system whereby water is released and not reused. The railway began operating by 1890 and was designed by engineer and follower of Brunel, George Croyden Marks and paid for largely by the publisher Sir George Newnes, in part responsible for introducing popular journalism.The picturesque coastline became popular in Georgian and Victorian times when paddle steamers arrived from Bristol and South Wales and the area retains much of its latter day charm. In 1952 torrential rain caused the West and East Lyn rivers to break their banks and twenty-eight lives were lost at Lynmouth and Barbrook.