The Saltburn Cliff Lift funicular railway is the oldest operating water-balance cliff lift in the UK and was opened in 1884.
The two 10 person cars are each fitted with a 1,000 imperial gallons (4,500 L) water tank, and run on railway tracks. Double steel wire ropes are attached to both cars, controlled by a brakeman in the upper station. The car at the top has its water tank filled until its mass exceeds the mass of the car at the bottom. It then travels down the incline, counter-balanced by the mass of the other car, which travels to the top, with the brakeman controlling safety and the speed of travel. When the car reaches the bottom, its water is released thus reducing the mass of the lower car, and pumped back up to the top of the cliff.
The original cars were refurbished in 1955, and wholly new aluminium cars were introduced in 1979, modelled on the original design. The original design was so good, that beyond maintenance and refurbishment, little has changed since 1884. In 1998 the main winding wheel was replaced for the first time, together with the installation of a new hydraulic braking system.
As of January 2012 the Cliff Lift is no longer illuminated at night.
Location: Saltburn, North Yorkshire
Photographer: brian swales