Clifton Rocks Railway | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Clifton Rocks Railway

Bristol, England, United Kingdom

Lily Johnson

06 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Alamy

About Clifton Rocks Railway

The Clifton Rocks Railway is a former underground funicular railway linking Clifton to Bristol Harbour, now open to the public via pre-arranged tours.

Clifton Rocks Railway history

Constructed in the late 19th century inside the cliffs of the Avon Gorge, Clifton Rocks Railway was built to reduce the impact of a railway system on the picturesque local surroundings.

It opened to the public on 11 March 1893, carrying a total of 6,220 passengers on its first day. Though it was initially a success, by 1908 the company in charge was declared bankrupt, and were forced to sell to Bristol Tramways.

In 1922, Hotwell Road was expanded to become Portway, removing the Hotwell station of the Railway. This caused transport numbers to further dwindle and on 29 September 1934, the final train ran along the service. Thus after 40 years of operation, it finally closed shortly before World War Two. During the war however it served as a communications post and air raid shelter for Bristol’s residents, and was also an emergency studio base for the BBC.

Clifton Rocks Railway today

Today the Clifton Rocks Railway is operated by a charitable trust which aims to preserve and restore the railway. The striking exterior of its dilapidated Bottom Station is still visible from the road, while its old Top Station retains some of the ornate details once enjoyed by Bristol’s 19th and early 20th-century commuters.

There are open days twice a year and the site is available to visit via pre-booked tours. In 2019, a project also began to refurbish the Clifton Rocks Railway and establish a museum there.

Getting to Clifton Rocks Railway

Clifton Rocks Railway is located in Bristol near the Clifton Suspension Bridge, just off the B3129. The nearest train station is the Clifton Down station, a 25-minute walk to the site, while the 8 and 505 bus services stop at Clifton Village, a 10-minute walk to the site.

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