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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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Known variously as a Lift Railway or Cliff Railway or a Cable Lift or simply The Lift, riding on it is a must for visitors to Lynton who will be using the original rolling stock installed in 1888. There are other cable lifts in the world but this one is absolutely unique in that it is powered by water alone. Its braking system was patented in 1888 and the lift has a totally accident-free record.

It works on a very simple principle. The two cars are connected by a continuous cable. Under each car is a large water tank. When the cars are stationary at either end of the rail, the weight of the water in the tanks is the same. The brakes are released as the driver of the lower car discharges sufficient water to make the top car heavier which causes it to move downwards, at the same time pulling up the lower car. This car will refill its tank when it reaches the top of the incline and, in turn, haul up the lower car as it travels back down the slope.

There are two sets of brakes on each car, both water-operated. One set remains in contact with the upper surface of the rails. The other set remain permanently in the "on" position as long as the driver's hand remains on the wheel. Turning the wheel lifts the heavy lead weights which hold the brakes closed. So effective is this system, that should the driver remove his hand, the weights return to the "closed" position in under a second and the car is clamped to the rails. The first set of brakes is used to bring the car to a halt and when the "Deadman's handle" is fully released, these brakes also clamp to the rails.

Cutting for the Lynton Lift Railway

The Lift Railway c.1893

The upper part of the passenger cabin was

removable and heavy goods were carried on

the flat bed in the early days of the railway.

The Lift Railway opened on 9 April 1890

The track is 900 feet long with a gradient of 1 in 1¾ and a rise of 500 feet.

It is run by the Lynton Lift Company, formed by Act of Parliament in 1888. The Company has perpetual rights to take water from the West Lyn River over a mile away.

A consortium headed by Sir George Newnes financed the project; Bob Jones, a local builder and his nephew George Marks were the constructing engineers.


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