08/06/12 - The steps they go down
A visit to Clifton Rocks Railway
Last week sixteen budding Yucca historians donned fluorescent bibs and hard hats to explore the ancient tunnels of Clifton Rocks Railway.
A Victorian engineering triumph, Bristolís water-powered funicular railway transported passengers up and down Clifton Gorge for more than 40 years, opening in 1893 and closing 1934. Sadly, not much remains of the actual railway; what made the visit fascinating however was seeing the work carried out during the 40s, when the rail tunnel was converted into air raid shelters and a secret transmission base for the BBC.
Our trip back to the war years was made possible by a small band of volunteers - headed up by our guide Maggie Shapland - whose tireless effort in clearing out the abandoned tunnel has helped preserve this unique historical landmark. As well as descending the tunnel steps deep into the Clifton gorge, we took a look around a museum of artefacts found inside the tunnels which provided a fascinating insight into life 70 years ago.
If you are in the Bristol area in July pop on over to the Records Office for an exhibition of artefacts and photographs, or better still arrange your own visit at cliftonrocksrailway.org.uk
A thoroughly enjoyable trip, and we thank Maggie and her team for being such excellent guides.
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