Scarborough cliff lift rail bridge could re-open

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A long-forgotten tunnel walkway underneath Scarborough’s historic Spa cliff lift could be brought back into use.

Scarborough Council has commissioned plans as part of a proposed Heritage Lottery-funded South Cliff Gardens project, to bring the area back to its glory days.

The South Cliff Gardens project is currently going through the bidding process with the Heritage Lottery Fund, with £5m proposed to secure the future of the iconic gardens.

Southern Green, which has been appointed by the authority to oversee the project, has now submitted a planning application to re-open the tunnel under the Grade II listed cliff railway.

The supporting document notes: “The cliff lift or funicular railway provided a vital link between the hotels and boarding houses at the top, to the promenade, Spa, bathing machines and beach huts below. It was designed by William Lucas and built by Crossley Brothers of Manchester in 1875.

“The railway set a trend which was taken up at many English resorts.

“The Cliff Railway is thought to be the earliest example designed for passengers in England and is of considerable evidential, historic and technological interest.”

The tunnel that ran under the railway tracks was built in 1874 so that the lift would not cut off access to the gardens.

Structural issues later forced its closure but it has recently been re-opened to allow experts to detail the repairs that would need to be carried out.

The planning document adds: “The tunnel is of outstanding evidential and historic interest as it linked parts of the gardens otherwise separated by the cliff lift.

“The proposed works will have a positive impact on the listed structure.

“Making good stonework on the external walls of the tunnel, reinforcing internal brickwork and introducing a new floor, drainage and lighting system will allow the tunnel to be brought into modern use, realising its original intent of providing a link from north to south of the railway.”

A decision on the Heritage Lottery bid is expected in December.