The history of Lynton & Lynmouth is steeped in stories of pirates and
smugglers. The rugged coastline and numerous coves around the coast afforded
plenty of opportunity for smugglers to run brandy and wine from France and
tobacco, tea, salt and soap from Ireland. Travel to Lynton & Lynmouth in the
early part of the nineteenth century was made very difficult by the lack of
proper roads, this meant that only the most intrepid of travellers made the
difficult journey, but also meant that the smugglers could ply their trade with
little fear of being caught.
One of the most famous residents of Lynton was Sir George Newnes, the founder of the magazine "Tit-Bits". In 1892 he began work on a magnificent residence on top of Hollerday Hill. Other famous visitors include the poet Shelly who stayed for several months with his bride and named the area "Little Switzerland" . Wordsworth and Coleridge also found the area inspiring and it is said that Coleridge was inspired to write "The Ancient Mariner" after viewing Lynmouth harbour.
The 450 ft high cliff which separates Lynton from Lynmouth meant that all goods from the harbour were carried up the steep gradient by pony and donkey. As tourism began to grow a better way to connect the two towns was proposed by an anonymous writer to the Lynton and Lynmouth Recorder. In 1890 the Cliff Railway was officially opened. Driven by water the unique railway runs up the 1 to 13/4 steep cliff affording magnificent views as it goes. There has never been an accident in the railways history.