First Father & Daughter driving team in 129 years

The Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway’s newest driver, Tasha Clarke, will release the first car of the new season on Saturday February 9th at 10am. Local HM Coastguard Lynmouth volunteer, Tasha, was born in Lynton and has worked at the railway for 5 years, initially undertaking part-time work in the ticket office before expressing her interest to qualify as a driver.

Tasha, 25, follows in the footsteps of her father, Ashley Clarke, who is the Chief Engineer and General Manager and has worked at the railway since 1979 and together they are the first father and daughter driving team in the railway’s 129 years of active service.

Tasha is one of few second-generation drivers of the Cliff Railway. Predecessors being the Jones family who were the original pioneers of the railway and began its construction in 1888.

Tasha attended Lynton School and then Ilfracombe Comprehensive and has volunteered with HM Coastguard Lynmouth since she was 18 years old, a role that has helped her to develop the essential skills and the attention to detail necessary to become a fully qualified Cliff Railway Driver.

Each driver is required to demonstrate a set of competences within the mechanics and the daily operating procedures of the railway, as well as maintenance, VHF radio use and of course great interaction with the visitors. Each Driver is required to pass all of the individual elements prior to their final assessment under the watchful eye of Chief Engineer, and dad, Ashley Clarke.

When asked what it was like having her father as the driving assessor, Tasha laughs, ‘I believe he was extra critical of my driving’ before adding, ‘My dad takes the responsibility and safety of the railway very seriously and if I wasn’t competent, I know he wouldn’t have let me qualify.’

Chairman, Rob Newman, added ‘It is fantastic that Tasha has put herself forward to be considered as a driver, she works well within the team, and enjoys the interaction with the public. It’s encouraging that a new generation of young drivers and engineers are in place to maintain the railway and drive it into the 21st century.’

Last year the Cliff Railway saw Jacob Salmon qualify as a Cliff Railway driver at just 18 years of age, he became one of the youngest qualified drivers of the cliff railway, passing his assessment before he had even passed his car driving test. Although the General Manager, Ashley, still retains the record of being the youngest ever driver at just 17, a record that is likely to stand for some time as any new driver must be 18 years of age.

Tasha has quickly become a valued member of the Cliff Railway Team and is looking forward to her new role at the Railway and her responsibilities as a fully qualified Driver. In her spare time Tasha enjoys looking after her two horses, Jake and Amazing Grace, her dog Layla and has a keen interest in farming and animals.

For those wishing to meet Tasha and wave off the first car of the cliff railway season then the Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway will be re-opened by the local scouts on Saturday 9th February at 10am.