On a trip out today Duncan found himself at Saltburn, a few miles east of Middlesbrough. Amongst the items of interest in this pleasant seaside resort is the Victorian cliff lift. It gets the title of tramway or railway at times by virtue of the small cars running up and down the steep slope on rails. It seems, however, to go by the more mundane title of ‘lift’.
The cliff lift is apparently the oldest surviving water balanced lift of its kind. It rises 36m up the cliff and dates back to 1884. However, it was the power source that was of particular interest. The two cars each have a large tank under them. The top one is filled with water and its additional weight draws it down the hill, pulling the empty car back up. At the bottom the new arrival is emptied of water and the process repeats. It is a simple and efficient system which uses only water to power it. It’s also wonderfully ornate and very Victorian, leading down to a simple but attractive pier.