Clifton Rocks Railway

Clifton Rocks Railway replica car rearend
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Thousands of people pass the bottom entrance to the Clifton Rocks Railway as they drive along Bristol's Portway, with most not knowing what secret is buried in the rock of the Avon Gorge. Constructed with great difficulty inside the cliffs of the Avon Gorge in order to reduce its visual impact on the picturesque surroundings, this water powered 'funicular' railway opened on 11 March, 1893 and operated for 40 years against diminishing trade. Its closure in 1934 did not mark the end of its useful life as it became a secret transmission base for the BBC during WWII, a repair centre for Imperial Airways barrage balloons, and a refuge shelter. This resulted in many blast walls and rooms being built on the rails. It has been empty and disused since the BBC moved out after the war. Volunteers have been working on it since Easter 2005

The Clifton Rocks Railway Trust has been formed by a group of volunteers to restore the Railway. Supported by the Avon Gorge Hotel, Bristol City Council and sponsored by a number of local companies the Trust is working hard to restore elements of the railway.

Venue Type:

Transport heritage site

Opening hours

19/20 May 10-4
8/9 September 10-4
Group trips arranged by appointment

Admission charges


Additional info

Only the top station can be seen on open days, but there is an exhibition of photos and artefacts found. Views of cable wheels, track and tunnel

Includes original turnstiles, regenerative gas light, artefacts left by war-time users

Collection details

Land Transport, Weapons and War

Clifton Rocks Railway
Princes Buildings
City of Bristol

logo: Heritage Open Days 2014


restoration diary




All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.