The Clifton Rocks Railway is a fascinating piece of Bristol’s History. Since 2005, a team of volunteers have been working to restore and protect its history, as well as offering open days and guided historical tours into the structure. In 2019, Bristol Venues took over this incredible historic site. We plan to restore the Clifton Rocks Railway to its former glory and offer a unique and exciting guest experience with a museum and tours.
The Clifton Rocks Railway began operating in 1893. Its aim was to connect Clifton and the Grand Spa Hotel to the tramway and ferry station at the bottom of Avon Gorge in Hotwells. Some worried that an inclined railway might spoil the natural beauty of the cliffside, and so an underground railway was proposed. It was an incredible challenge to bore through the limestone rocks to create the 28ft wide, 450ft long tunnel. During its first year of operation, the Clifton Rocks Railway had close to half a million passengers. However, its popularity steadily declined until its closure in 1934.
BBC and WWII
Air Raid Shelters
BBC Broadcast Station
During World War Two, an unusual use was found for the railway. British Overseas Airways Company rented the top portion of the railway to construct offices and storage space for barrage balloons that would be used throughout the war. Air raid shelters were constructed for BOAC employees and the general public. The BBC, in need of a broadcasting base that would be safe from bombings, began using the lower section of the railway tunnel. The broadcast base was used by the BBC until 1960.