Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British and Irish — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British and Irish themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week, I reviewed the movie Edge of Tomorrow and Sim linked up her review of the same film. Heather reviewed a fun mystery novel series called The Agency about one graduate of a Victorian girls school that turns delinquent girls into female investigators. Sim shared her visit to Baker Street, beginning with the Underground station. Becky reviewed 44 Scotland Street, a novel by Alexander McCall Smith set in Edinburgh. Mike took us along on a weekend jaunt in Yorkshire that included a ride on a steam train.
I think it was Mike’s post about steam trains last week that warmed me up to a fascination for this article from the BBC this week. It’s all about a quirky little railway that was built to haul passengers from the port at Bristol up to a spa at the top of the hill. Clifton Rocks is a funicular built in a tunnel. The posh residents of Clifton weren’t too happy about this railway at all and the certainly didn’t want to see it.
Funicular railways carry passengers or freight up and down steep inclines by using two cars that counterbalance each other. The one at Clifton Rocks used water for the counterbalance. Water was added to tanks under the top car to make it heavier than the bottom car. As the top car descended, the bottom car rose.
At first, Clifton Rocks Railway was popular and profitable, but that declined with the increase in automobiles. The railway closed in 1934.
World War II gave it a second life. One part of the tunnel was used as an air-raid shelter since Bristol was a favorite target for German bombers with its easily spotted Clifton Suspension Bridge, busy port, and an airplane factory. Another part of the tunnel became an alternate broadcast site for the BBC — at one point it sheltered the BBC Symphony Orchestra which benefited from the acoustics.
With a lot of volunteer activity, the tunnel is now open for tours on open days or by appointment, although there is much more work to be done.
Read the article for many more details and photos.