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  • Clifton Rocks Railway Open Day: April 15, 2012
  • Clifton Rocks Railway Open Day: May 11, 2019
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Author Topic: Clifton Rocks Railway, Bristol - Open Days  (Read 5459 times)
bignosemac
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« on: February 28, 2010, 12:30:41 am »

This fascinating disused, and sadly moth-balled, funicular railway (the first underground funicular in the world) is hosting a couple of Open Days in 2010.

Sunday 25th April

Sunday 16th May

10am to 4pm both days.

Please note that for insurance reason children under 14 are not permitted.

Further information on the Clifton Rocks Railway can be found here.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2012, 02:20:28 am by bignosemac » Logged

Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2010, 12:45:39 am »

Thanks for posting that, bignosemac!  Cheesy

I shall certainly be attending one of those rare opportunities to view the railway, and its restoration!
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William Huskisson MP was the first person to be killed by a train while crossing the tracks, in 1830.  Many more have died in the same way since then.  Don't take a chance: stop, look, listen.

"Level crossings are safe, unless they are used in an unsafe manner."  Discuss.
bignosemac
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« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2010, 01:07:00 am »

It is very unlikely that the CRR will ever be restored to full operation, the lower station opens almost directly onto the A4 Portway, with just a very narrow footpath between it and the road, and there is simply no room left to allow for safe pedestrian access, short of skewing the road out over the river!

The tunnel itself was heavily modified during World War II, being converted for use as an emergency broadcasting station by the BBC. Concrete stairways were built over the tracks and the tunnel was comparmentalized into seperate rooms used for studios, relay rooms, and air-raid shelters.  Despite the heavy bombing that Bristol suffered during the war the BBC were able to continue broadcasting from sites above ground and so the facilities installed inside the CRR were never utilised.

Despite all this several original features remain, and these are what the restoration project is currently focusing on.

I suppose with enough will (and a lot of money!!) the funicular could be restored, but the problem of access to the lower (Hotwells) station seems insurmountable.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2010, 01:13:02 am by bignosemac » Logged

John R
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« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2010, 11:10:10 am »

Having seen it, I can confirm that a huge amount of money would be required. And it's not really in a good place to be a tourist attraction, with poor access and parking at either end.

Well worth a visit though.  We had to queue for over half an hour on Open Doors weekend a couple of years ago, such was its popularity.
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Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2010, 10:11:10 am »

I'm off to visit this now.

Chris.  Smiley
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William Huskisson MP was the first person to be killed by a train while crossing the tracks, in 1830.  Many more have died in the same way since then.  Don't take a chance: stop, look, listen.

"Level crossings are safe, unless they are used in an unsafe manner."  Discuss.
Chris from Nailsea
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« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2010, 01:40:06 pm »

Just returned from my visit: very interesting guided tours of the top station area (unfortunately, for quite practical safety reasons, it wasn't possible to go down the tunnels themselves).  Well worth a visit - it's free, though they obviously welcome donations!  Wink Cheesy Grin
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William Huskisson MP was the first person to be killed by a train while crossing the tracks, in 1830.  Many more have died in the same way since then.  Don't take a chance: stop, look, listen.

"Level crossings are safe, unless they are used in an unsafe manner."  Discuss.
bignosemac
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« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2012, 02:09:58 am »

Further open days of this fascinating piece of railway history are upcoming this year.

There are open days on Sundays, 15th April and 13th May 2012.

Further information:

http://www.cliftonrocksrailway.org.uk/news_06.htm
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2019, 02:14:02 pm »

The Clifton Rocks Railway has a new owner - Ian Johnson, who also owns the Clifton Observatory. According to Bristol 24/7

Quote
CLIFTON ROCKS RAILWAY TO BE BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE

A funicular railway cut out of the rocks of the Avon Gorge more than 125 years ago could be brought back to life as Bristol’s newest tourist attraction.

[...]

Johnson’s plans are to open a museum at the upper station seven days a week and gradually restore the historic railway to its original Victorian glory.

[...]

Clifton Rocks Railway’s next open day takes place between 10am and 4pm on Saturday, May 11 as part of National Funicular Day when there will also be a photographic exhibition in the Avon Gorge Hotel.

The most difficult problem to overcome for anyone seriously wishing to reopen this railway is the lower terminal, which fronts onto a narrow pavement on the busy A4 Portway (see https://goo.gl/maps/2j1guFwmLCqZDVz8A ). It is hard to see how this would work, but then maybe I lack Mr Johnson's imagination and business acumen - the Observatory, after all, seems to have been transformed in recent years.
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grahame
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« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2019, 02:45:37 pm »

Open day - 11th May 2019 - http://www.b-i-a-s.org.uk/rocks_railway_refurbishment.html#open_day . I am very tempted to go, having given a training course a few years ago to a group including the restoration chair, and finding that I was in the presence of someone even geekier and driven about this sir of stuff that I am.

Also Sat 14, Sun 15 September 10-4. Doors Open Day. https://www.bristoldoorsopenday.org. Free buses Saturday.

Edit to correct the latter link to https - my error for copying the link without checking
« Last Edit: April 30, 2019, 04:39:05 pm by grahame » Logged

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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2019, 04:18:58 pm »

Also Sat 14, Sun 15 September 10-4. Doors Open Day. http://www.bristoldoorsopenday.org. Free buses Saturday.

Unfortunately that link only takes you to a Domain Default page with the message "This page is generated by Plesk, the leading hosting automation software. You see this page because there is no Web site at this address."
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grahame
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« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2019, 04:37:38 pm »

Quote
Also Sat 14, Sun 15 September 10-4. Doors Open Day. http://www.bristoldoorsopenday.org. Free buses Saturday.

Unfortunately that link only takes you to a Domain Default page with the message "This page is generated by Plesk, the leading hosting automation software. You see this page because there is no Web site at this address."

I think they're stuck between 2018 and 2019 ... some early data for 2019:
https://www.architecturecentre.org.uk/whats-on/bristol-open-doors-2019/
also works better (but still flakey) with https - https://www.bristoldoorsopenday.org
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grahame
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« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2019, 08:51:53 pm »

The most difficult problem to overcome for anyone seriously wishing to reopen this railway is the lower terminal, which fronts onto a narrow pavement on the busy A4 Portway (see https://goo.gl/maps/2j1guFwmLCqZDVz8A ). It is hard to see how this would work, but then maybe I lack Mr Johnson's imagination and business acumen - the Observatory, after all, seems to have been transformed in recent years.

I've seen a number of old pictures of the base station ... with trams running in front and the whole area being a very pleasant riverside promenade. But that all seems to have been swept away - so not only do you have the issue of "how would people exit the building?" but also "what would there be for them to do?"  I also wonder how big the circulation area is inside the building at the bottom of the cliff lift.

Looking at Street View and towards the centre of Bristol, I note a building with a ground level balcony / walk through and I wonder about railings close to the road edge and guiding people in to there.  Not sure what it is / who owns it, and how much people would need to go through the pinch point outside the lifts or could circulate inside to where it's wider ... but sadly I fear that it would be hard to do anything with the riverside of the road, with the difficulty of crossing, lack of width again, and vicious tidal range that make it very raw nature.   Perhaps turn the attraction round - run the Original Bristol City Open Bus tour along the Portway and drop off / pick everyone on the inbound side, and have them ride up to see Clifton and the Bridge?
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bignosemac
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« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2019, 09:35:50 pm »

The buildings just up the road toward Bristol are residential.
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2019, 09:55:56 pm »

From time to time the A4 Portway is closed for maintenance, and this brings home to you just how appallingly intrusive the motor traffic that normally roars up and down the Avon Gorge is. Before the Portway, this was, as grahame says, a peaceful spot.

The Colonnade was originally a shopping arcade associated with Hotwell House, a large once-fashionable spa building  which was demolished in 1867 to widen the river. The Rocks Railway's lower terminus is  more or less behind the site of Hotwell House.

It's not a place you'd want to linger now.         
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« Reply #14 on: May 01, 2019, 11:04:04 am »

The Portway gets plenty of runners and cyclists.

I'd suggest that if you wanted to really do something special, you could build a walkway/cycleway out alongside the river, more or less over the remains of the wooden moorings. Stick some kind of cafe/education centre on it, with perhaps some kind of green 'wall' to separate it from the road and effectively you extend the harbourside walk up to the furnicular. 

Would have thought that you could get that for £10m, would have thought that the harbour company and the Merchant Venturers should be good for a chunk of that. 
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