Our Story

Clifton Rocks Railway

You may have seen the entrances to the Railway along the Portway or by the Avon Gorge Hotel and perhaps wondered what was beyond the gates.

Constructed inside the Avon gorge under difficult circumstances, the railway operated for 40 years until it’s closure in 1934. The railway linked Clifton to Hotwells and Bristol Harbour at the bottom of Avon Gorge. It was operated by 4 cars; each car could accommodate 18 seated passengers and held a small platform on which the ‘brakesman’ or attendant rode alongside.

We are excited to bring this part of Bristol’s history back to life and restore the railway to be something spectacular!


Clifton Rocks Railway began operating and opened to its first passengersIn the first 12 months nearly half a million customers rode up and down the railway


A dispute arose between the City of Bristol and the Clifton Rocks Railway Co Ltd. The City claimed that the Clifton Rocks Railway occupied land which was owned by the City.

The Clifton Rocks Railway Co. claimed that they thought they owned the land, but then went on to lose their case and had to pay a small sum to the City in compensation


The steady decline of passengers took their toll and was no longer used as frequently


After continued deficits, the Clifton Rocks Railway finally closed, the four cars being lowered to the bottom station


British Overseas Airways constructed an office suite inside. Control of the tunnel came under the ARP (Air Raid Precaution) Committee which later became the Civil Defence Committee during the War


The BBC installed their broadcasting base inside the railway as a backup for London


With changes brought about by advances in technology, the radio station became redundant and the BBC’s lease determined.


The Clifton Rocks Railway Trust has protected it and opened it to the public on a handful of days every year, including the popular Bristol Doors Open Day


First public opening since the war


Sold and plans begin for restoration

What’s next?

A group of volunteers have been restoring the railway over the past few years, and in the next year, the team will gradually be putting the railway museum back on track as one of Bristol’s leading tourist attractions. With the old pay box and turnstiles still in place, it will be amazing to restore this and get it back up and running day to day.