August was a very busy month for historic, local attraction, Babbacombe Cliff Railway. Although it was built in1926 it has been owned and run by a specially set up Community Interest Company (CIC) for the past five years. The Company is made up of a Board of voluntary Directors who in turn employ just 6 members of staff to ensure that the 100,000 people who travel on the Cliff Railway each year do so safely and happily.
In August there were two special events to mark the first five years of CIC ownership. The first was an evening Reception held at the Bay Trecarn Hotel to thank all the many volunteers, local businesses and groups who have helped make the railway the success it now is. The Trecarn Hotel is the latest local business to link up with the Cliff Railway and is now holding regular fundraising events and supporting operations wherever possible. In fact, Hotel Manager, Steve King, has just joined the Board of Directors of the Railway. Steve said “I am delighted to be so involved with Babbacombe Cliff Railway, both personally and on behalf of the hotel. It’s an amazing local attraction and I believe it’s vital that it is looked after and treasured for future generations. To be part of a group so dedicated to ensuring that happens is very inspiring and I’m looking forward to getting more involved.”
Board Chairman, John Ayres, said “We are absolutely thrilled that Steve has joined the Board. We are lucky enough to have a great bunch of people both on the Board and as volunteers. The mix of skills and experience within the group is what makes the Cliff Railway the success it is. We take the business of running Babbacombe Cliff Railway very seriously but we also get along very well and respect each other’s opinions. Between us I believe we are doing a great job of taking care of the Cliff Railway and running it in a way that ensures it will continue to prosper for many years to come.” He added “It was wonderful to have our special fifth anniversary Reception as it gave us an opportunity to show everyone who has contributed how important they all are to the Cliff Railway”.
In fact, John was so keen to ensure that he thanked everyone that, instead of the usual speeches one would expect at such an occasion, he read a poem that he had written specially for the event and which can be read in full on the Cliff Railway website.
After an evening of merry-making, a family party day took place down on Oddicombe Beach in the form of the first ever Babbacombe Ukulele Festival with performances by ukulele bands from Babbacombe, Hatherleigh, Torbay, Marldon and Newton Abbot. On the Saturday morning, a large marquee was put up on the promenade and for over four hours live music was enjoyed by lots of people on a day of spectacular sunshine. John said “One of the reasons for having a marquee was so that there would be shelter if the weather was bad. In the end it was used as much-needed shade as we were treated to a glorious sunny day. The whole event was a huge success and I’m very much hoping it was the first of many ukulele festivals to come so watch this space.”
As well as the Board and staff the Cliff Railway has lots of volunteers who help run the Visitor Centre down on Oddicombe Beach. The Visitor Centre opened in April 2012. It’s free to look around and has proved extremely popular with locals and holidaymakers alike. Badly damaged in the storms this February, it was redecorated, re-stocked and open in time for Easter. The Cliff Railway is always keen to hear from anyone who may like to volunteer in the Visitor Centre even for just a few hours a week. So, if you are interested in being part of the future of Babbacombe Cliff Railway e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or pop into the Visitor Centre and see Sarah Foley, who co-ordinates all the volunteers.
Babbacombe Cliff Railway is open every day from 9.30am and their next special event is a mystery to solve as part of the Agatha Christie Festival. On Saturday 20 September the team will take you back to the 1920s and ask you to help solve the “Flight of the Babbacombe Smuggler”. With suspects to question and live music from High Society the fun starts at midday and is totally free to take part although usual Cliff Railway travel charges apply. For more information visit www.babbacombecliffrailway.co.uk or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.