One of the main focal points to Saltburn and it’s tourism, it’s in fact the oldest water-balanced funicular in the UK and then the second oldest around the World.
The purpose of the cliff lift is to help connect the pier to the old town and save people from climbing the 173 steps to the top.
Individuals who use mobility scooters or wheelchairs are able to use the cliff lift – whilst if you are a dog owner it is politely advised that they are kept on a lead for health and safety purposes.
The Saltburn cliff lift is open on weekends only in peak seasons from mid-March to approximately the end of October.
Please note that between 9th January and 9th February 2024 it will be closed for annual maintenance.
How Does The Cliff Lift Operate?
For the Saltburn Cliff Lift to operate, it is a masterclass in engineering as the top carriage is filled with water until it outweighs the other carriage at the bottom of the lift.
When it begins to outweigh the other carriage, it’ll mean that the carriage at the bottom will slowly reach the top.
This is repeated, helping people get from Saltburn Pier to the Victorian Town.
In the cabin to the right of the lift, this is where the brake operation is kept.
For those people who are interested in traveling on the Saltburn funicular, the prices and membership for 2023/24 are as follows:
To clarify, this is for one-way fares only i.e either up or down (not up and down).
- Adults: £1.60
- Children (aged 4 – 16): £1.00
- Children 4 and under: Free
- Family Ticket (2 adults and 3 children or 1 adult and 4 children): £5
- Dogs travel free
Prices may be subject to change
Annual Ticket Membership
If you visit Saltburn and use the lift on a regular basis, then perhaps an annual ticket maybe worth considering.
Prices are as follows:
- Adults: £28.00
- Children (aged 4 – 16): £22.00
- Family Ticket (2 adults and 3 children or 1 adult and 4 children): £85.00
Prices may be subject to change
The History of Saltburn Cliff Lift
This section can be split into two parts firstly the original hoist that dated from 1870 to 1883 and the second hoist that was released to the public on June 28, 1884 which is currently being used today.
The First Saltburn Hoist
We shall start right with the first hoist that was enginereed by John Anderson which it started from a design point of view around 1867.
This was when John Anderson, who was the resident engineer for Saltburn – formed the company Saltburn-by-the-Sea Pier and began designing and contracting the project.
The first hoist was 120ft high, made of wood and held down by guy ropes in which it originally opened daily on 1st July 1870 allowing up to 20 people to travel from the bottom to the top.
In a similar-ish way to the second hoist, you could raise or lower the carriage in the form of water. Whether this was either pouring water into the tank or pouring it out of the tank.
This method is similar to what is used today, in which it would cause the weight of the carriage to be either lowered or higher depending on the direction it was traveling.
This hoist was in working condition until August 1883 when it was demolished by new owners.
The reasoning behind the new company demolishing the first hoist was based on health and safety purposes meaning that it had operated for 13 years.
The Second Hoist – The Tramway
Following on from the demolition of the first hoist, a second hoist was erected allowing carriages to transport 12 people up or down the cliff in approximately 55 seconds.
The gradient of the lift is 1 in 1.40 or a 71% incline/decline – depending of course if you are going up or down.
From top to bottom the length of the track is 207 feet and each carriage has a water capacity of 1,500 litres.
Moving on from these facts and figures, it’s interesting to note that several features have evolved even further since it’s re-release in 1884.
Firstly, the original wheel that was used in 1884 was replaced by a new wheel in 1998. The original wheel was re-purposed and can now be found at the top of the cliff – as part of a flower bed.
Secondly, the carriages or cars that helped transport individuals from top to bottom have also changed in 1955 and also again in 1979.
When they originally were designed to transport anywhere between 10 to 12 people.