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Babbacombe Cliff Railway - History - Renovation - Recollections - Information - Babbacombe & St Marychurch etc. 

St Marychurch & Babbacombe local attractions see: Local Information.

Information please ? see: Recollections page if you wish to submit any anecdotes, pictures, holiday snaps, postcards, photos, memories and/or articles on the Babbacombe Cliff Railway for inclusion on this independent website (No personal information is displayed) contact: 


Torbay Council allocated the money generated from the sale of St Marychurch Town Hall for the major reburbishment programme of works on the Babbacombe Cliff Railway.

The programme of works commenced in November 2005 and was completed in 2007 at a cost of over half a million pounds. See: St Marychurch Town Hall article lower down this page also Railway Renovation page.

Babbacombe Cliff Railway managed by:

Babbacombe Cliff Railway Community Interest Company

Information opening times ect contact:

Station Manager Telephone:  01803-328750

Regular safety test are carried out to ensure the safety and comfort of passengers.

Closed during the Winter months

Last up journey is signaled by the ringing of  'Talca' an old ships bell 30 and 15 minutes before the railway closes.

Do you know the history of the Talca ship bell ?

Please contact webmaster or J.M.L.

Marriage Act
Since 1st April 1995 following its Royal Assent in 1994 the Marriage Act allows suitable approved premises licenses for marriage ceremonies. More information please contact Torbay Registrars Office  e-mail  for list of approved premises licensed for marriage ceremonies in Torbay. Babbacombe Cliff Railway is one of the licensed premises in Torbay.  

Down to the beaches

Babbacombe Cliff Railway one of only sixteen funicular railways still functioning in the United Kingdom.

Believed to be one of only two, both unique in design and operational.

A easy way to and from Oddicombe and Babbacombe is via the cliff railway.

Suitable for those who are unable to manage the walk down the steep beach road ( 1 in 3 gradients ) or the pathways to Oddicombe beach.

 Oddicombe Beach in 1931 

The cliff railway has carried countless numbers of passengers to and from the two beaches.

Numbers have declined mainly due to the expansion of package holidays abroad.

At its peak the cliff railway was transporting up to 250,000 people a year.



Torbay Council ( once a borough council ) has operated the railway since the mid nineteen thirties.

Its last major overhaul over fifty years ago. Left: Railway 1927

In June 2003 after a breakdown a consultant recommend major works to satisfy Health & Safety Executive concerns.

Statutory responsibility for overseeing cableways including funicular railways transferred from the Railway Inspectorate to Health Safety Executive Mines & Quarries Unit as of 1st April 2006.

A few organisations and companies at first expressed interest,  later all for various reasons declined to become involved.

A refurbishment programme of work was required to allow the railway to continue operating. Left: Oddicombe & railway 1960's

Cost of the work, over half a million pounds, a prohibitive amount for a cash strapped council, as are many councils across the UK. 

With no council funds available the future of the cliff railway, one of the areas major tourist attractions a local heritage was uncertain which aroused concern and a public meeting was arranged. see:
FBCR article.

St Marychurch Town Hall

Resident campaigns along with many other avenues were explored to save the St Marychurch Town Hall for public use.

The Town Hall  opened in 1883 (architect Mr J Soudon Bridgman) has many historical connections.

The announcement the proclamation of Queen Elizabeth.

The John Lee murder inquiry ( John Babbacombe Lee the man they could not hang)  see: (A fascinating and comprehensive website.)

The retention of the building under council ownership was outweighed by renovation costs. Yet another community asset loss. 

Lack of funds and shortcomings of essential regular property maintenance inevitably led to its deterioration.

Regrettably, despite all the efforts to keep this public building for the use of the community Torbay Council concluded that a financial shortfall along with budget cuts they were left with no option other than to sell the building to raise funds.

The property was later sold to a developer for over half a million pounds for conversion into private apartments and a business premises.

Old carriages pre 2005-07 renovation.

A contentious issue, which continues to invoke local controversy, dismay and anger of the loss of an important community asset.

That along with the publics concerns on the cliff railway a major tourist attraction may have swayed Torbay Council.

The council decided to re-reinvested income from sale of St Marychurch Town Hall.

Money generated from the town hall sale and money from the Access to the Coast projects budget was allocated to re-furbish the cliff railway.

Cost of the programme of works for the cliff railway over half a million pounds. see: Railway Renovation page.


Friends of Babbacombe Cliff Railway a support group in co-operation with Torbay Council formed in March 2005 to preserve protect and promote the Babbacombe Cliff Railway.  Their constitution see: Links & Information page.


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