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Southend Cliff Lift

Opened 1912 and unique in the UK for having a single car counter-balanced by a weight running directly beneath the main track

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Clifton Terrace


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About Southend Cliff Lift

Constructed by the American company, Waygood Otis, Southend's Cliff Lift was opened on August Bank Holiday 1912. It is a unique funicular railway, has only one car, a counterbalance weight running on a second track beneath the main track and is more generally known as a 'cliff lift'. The lift is electrically powered.

The line runs on the site of a pioneering moving walkway, a forerunner of today's escalator. This was constructed in 1901 by the American engineer Jesse W. Reno, but soon proved noisy and unreliable due its exposed location.

The current lift was constructed by Waygood & Company, now part of the Otis Elevator Company. Since opening in August 1912 it has been modernised three times, in 1930, 1959 and 1990. Each modernisation has resulted in the replacement of the car.

In 2004 the line was closed due to technical problems, and refurbishment was undertaken on the stations. However, during the time that it was closed, the regulations governing its operation changed, requiring modifications before it could be reopened. The line finally re-opened on 25 May 2010, after a restoration costing a total of £3 million, £650,000 on the car alone with assistance of the National Lottery.

Two original door locks still bear the inscription of Waygood Otis.


The Red Wheel plaque was installed 28 March 2023 - a formal unveiling is yet to be announced

Top station is on Clifton Terrace, bottom is on Western Esplanade


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National Transport Trust, Old Bank House, 26 Station Approach, Hinchley Wood, Esher, Surrey KT10 0SR