The Ventnor Cliff Railway or Funicular that never was! Part Two

Through the first half of the 20th Century, there were fruther efforts to construct a cliff railway in Ventnor, beginning with Fritz Bernard Behr’s scheme in 1908. His plan once more linked Esplanade, Church Street, Station and the top of the Downs with an electrically operated solution.

The cost was estimated at about £25,000, which included land and property purchase. Behr was invited to prepare drawings for the Light Railway Commission and, in due course, Commissioners attended in the Town Hall for a public enquiry in July 1909. By early 1910, though, it seems that the scheme had foundered for the lack of agreement over land and property acquisition.

In 1912, the local architect Theodore Saunders was party to an offer to Ventnor’s Council of a scheme to construct an inclined lift, wholly in a tunnel, that connected the Esplanade with Church Street. Unfortunately, even this much less ambitious scheme foundered. The Town Council had recently mortgaged its rate income to renew sea defences and could not raise any more funds.

In 1924, the newly formed Southern Railway Company decided to revive the idea of a funicular linking the station with the Esplanade. Unfortunately, and like all the earlier schemes, the proposals soon faded from view, with the estimated cost of £40,000 likely to have been a key reason.

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