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Clifton Rocks Railway revival?

Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by Forestpines, Apr 30, 2019.

  1. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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  2. mikechant

    mikechant New Member

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    My vague memories** are that most of the wartime bits were in side rooms off the bottom of the actual incline, maybe they can come to a reasonable compromise?

    **1986 - I was studying in Bristol and did some unofficial exploring; please note I didn't break in, just noticed one day that the door at the bottom was unlocked.
     
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  3. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    I had a tour about 6 years ago, and from memory the BBC bits were in the bottom station and the lowest part of the incline; the air raid shelter was in the middle section and the top section (former barrage balloon repair shop) was empty apart from some rubble.

    Current access is by two wartime staircases built along the edges of the tunnel which obstruct the outermost two tracks, so I suspect restoring all four tracks would be extremely difficult.

    Incidentally when the tunnel was first used as an air raid shelter, entry was by walking through the cars! I think I was told all four were lowered to the bottom for that, and that arrangement lasted until the BBC moved into the bottom station.
     
  4. simon

    simon Resident of Nat Pres

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    A bit of a journey to no-where. At present would spill you out onto the Portway which is not really the best location to arrive at.
     
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  5. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Well, if we closed the Portway, reopened the Hotwells Pontoon, with a fleet of Paddle Steamers sailing to Ilfracombe, Minehead & Lundy Island, reinstated the tram terminus & reopened the old Port & Pier Railway (A WIBN to far) Job Jobbed
     
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  6. mikechant

    mikechant New Member

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    Yes, a nasty road to have as a destination; potentially dangerous if you had a number of people exiting at once. I think you'd probably want to make it a trip down from the top, view the BBC bit, and then back up, with the bottom entrance maybe just used as an emergency exit. But then you'd be missing out of seeing the facade, which is an important feature...difficult to see a suitable safe way of including it which wouldn't be insanely expensive.
     
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  7. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    That's how it's currently done on guided tours: entrance and exit at the top only.

    I did walk to the bottom entrance once to photograph the facade but I wouldn't recommend it.
     
  8. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    I used to look at the facade from the deck of Waverley or Balmoral as we sailed past

    Now if we could reinstate the Spa at Hotwells demolished in 1865
     
  9. Steve

    Steve Resident of Nat Pres Friend

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    Any restoration to working order is likely to fall foul of the Cableways Installation Regulations 2018 unless they are very careful. I suggest that they need to get in touch with the HRA for advice.
     
  10. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    The BBC's news story about this turned out to be rather less sensational than the Bristol 24/7 story - they made it sound as if the new owners want to keep the site much as it is now, just open for visitors all the time (normally only open to booked guided tours).

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-48095544
     
  11. Kingscross

    Kingscross New Member

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    The Mayor has ambitions to build 3500 homes around the Cumberland Basin, which is very close to the Rocks Railway bottom station. His plans include a reconfiguration of the road system, possibly replacing the high-level Plimsoll Bridge with an at-grade lift bridge. Doing this would remove the need for all the approach ramps and release land for development. If all of this comes to pass (and I'll reserve judgement on that) the Rocks Railway could become a very useful piece of transport infrastructure again, taking people from a brand new residential quarter at Hotwells up to Clifton.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2019
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  12. SpudUk

    SpudUk Well-Known Member

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    There was even a suggestion of some tunneling recently, in conjunction with the Bristol underground project (which I'm far from convinced will ever happen either), as part of the remodeling around Cumberland Basin.

    I could see the bottom station, in conjunction with a pedestrian swing bridge over to a station on the Portishead line (part of the MetroWest proposals) being useful for public transport access to Clifton and Hotwells, but that doesn't remove the issue of they Portway. If there was a need for something like this, a cable car from one side of the Avon up to Clifton would be substantially less dangerous then pedestrians exiting the rocks railway onto Portway.
     
  13. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    There was also a slightly crazy idea for a citywide network of cable cars, proposed the other month by a Clifton architect!
     
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  14. DcB

    DcB New Member

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    Looking at the history on the website would have been at a peak when there was a connection with boats and the Bristol Port & Pier Railway. Sadly declining when the Portway road used the rail track in 1922. The Rocks railway continued till 1935 so maybe the Portway road was not as busy as it is today.
    Restoring the Rocks railway and lower station will be expensive. But opening the upper station as a museum and maybe function rooms if popular and profitable and will raise raise funds towards restoring.
    Sadly closing the Portway except for special events to gain access to the lower station does not seem likely. Maybe a fence/barrier and road crossing with traffic lights to the foot/cycle path might be a possibility?
     
  15. Kingscross

    Kingscross New Member

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    Although the heavy traffic makes for an unpleasant pedestrian environment, with a little pavement widening on the east side of the Portway there could still be easy access to the bottom station.

    What I'd like to really see is the existing concrete suicide/avalanche shelter over the Portway and under the suspension bridge extended South by 200 metres to a point adjacent to abut the lower Rocks Railway station. Passengers could then disembark the Rocks Railway onto a new promenade on top of the shelter and experience the Avon Gorge and the suspension bridge sans traffic. Wouldn't it be nice, etc.....
     
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  16. SpudUk

    SpudUk Well-Known Member

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    Not that would be a cracking idea, although exceedingly difficult as it'd require lowering the road level considerably
     
  17. Forestpines

    Forestpines Well-Known Member

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    Given the Portway is already sometimes closed when a spring tide coincides with heavy rain, I see lowering it as unlikely
     
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  18. johnofwessex

    johnofwessex Part of the furniture

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    Also there are a number of houses that would be affected. In addition to this the railway runs in a tunnel which reduces its attractiveness
     

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