Shropshire Star

Bridgnorth Cliff Railway celebrates milestone anniversary - with video and pictures

A historic railway is planning a year of celebrations after reaching a milestone anniversary.


Bridgnorth Cliff Railway will be 125 years old on July 7.

The steepest and oldest inland cliff railway in the country has been hauling residents, shoppers and tourists up the sandstone cliffs daily since 1892.

The owners, Dr Malvern Tipping and his mother Eileen Tipping, are hoping to mark the day by re-printing a booklet from the original opening and putting a forward by his mother in it.

Watch our video here:

Dr Tipping, who lives in Suffolk but regularly travels to Bridgnorth, said: "We would like to mark the 125 year anniversary on July 7 – we would really like to put something on.

"We have the original company minutes going back to October 1891, which is when the company was founded. The Cliff Railway did not open until July 1892.

"George Croydon Marks, the founder and first director, said in the minutes he ought to put together a booklet for the opening. In two weeks he had written and drawn the images himself for the booklet, minus two pages.

"The business had a copy printed 25 years ago to mark the centenary, so we're thinking of having another made with my mother's foreword in to mark the 125th anniversary.

"The printed copy shows traders from 125 years ago, some of which still have family links in Bridgnorth today."

Dr Tipping added: "It was opened by John Anderson who was Mayor of Bridgnorth. George Croydon Marks presented him with a golden key which is now in Bridgnorth Museum."

Only when purchasing the Cliff Railway five years ago, did Dr Tipping and his mother discover they were related to Mr Marks.

Dr Tipping said: "My mother's grandfather Walter Crang came from Parracombe, only four miles from Lynton Cliff Railway.

"He was third cousins with George Croydon Marks, who founded and became the first managing director of the Cliff Railway, then was succeeded by his brother Edward Marks.

"When we purchased it, we had no idea of the family connection, only through talking to our connections in Lynton did we find we were related. So it's very much a family affair, no longer is it just being responsible for a piece of iconic transport history, we now have to safeguard a vitally important part of our family heritage."

Dr Tipping described how the railway is a means of transport for some and a tourist attraction for others.

He said: "It serves two groups of people, people who use it as a means of travelling from A to B, including shoppers who travel into Bridgnorth on Saturdays, and tourists who come to the town to see the railway and other heritage assets in the town.

"The combined heritage assets which attract people to the town are The Castle, Castle Walk, Cliff Railway and Town Hall.

"Both the railway and the town owes a lot to the Severn Valley Railway because it brings in such a great deal of tourists."

There were busy months and quiet months last year.

Dr Tipping said: "It has been an interesting year, we have had some very good months and some poor months due to bad weather.

"My thoughts are that people will holiday inland more as a result of the fall in the pound so we're expecting a busy 2017."

Dr Tipping has been in talks with Ziran Land Ltd, the developers proposing to build a retail park on the Old Smithfield car park.

He said: "We see the development has its merits and demerits, so we have taken a neutral view on the matter. We think a much more positive way for the developers to spend the £100,000 offered for the park and ride, would be to put it towards car parking in Low Town. So then we can convey them into town on the Cliff Railway, using a cleaner mode of transport than buses."

Mrs Tipping said: "We inherited Chris Preece, the railway manager, with the business as he has been with the railway for 10 years.

"He's absolutely great, he really is, he's taken to new responsibilities we gave him like a duck to water. He's really interested in his job and we couldn't do it without him."

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