Photographer's Note

Lisbon’s steeply sloping terrain has always been a serious problem for the transport of people and goods between the high and the low-lying areas.
When mechanical traction became available, a company was set up to solve the problem - the Lisbon Mechanical Lift Company (Companhia dos Ascensores Mecânicos de Lisboa. It provided the city with a series of funiculars working up and down the slopes. The first was officially opened in 1884 in the Calçada do Lavra. This was followed by the funicular on the Calçada da Glória when the new company signed a contract with the Lisbon municipality on 20 April 1888, it was awarded the right as concessionaire to install another funicular running from the Rua de S.Paulo up the Rua de Duarte Belo to connect with the Largo do Calhariz.
Work began in 1890. Construction was slowed down by a variety of problems: the laying of the gutter, collisions and the very nature of the steeply-sloping terrain. In spite of all these factors and repeated delays, the official tests took place on 27 June, with the service open to the public the next day.
The traction system was by rack and cable, with water as the counter-weight. Each carriage was equipped with a water tank which was emptied each time it reached the Rua de S. Paulo and filled at the top, in the Largo do Calhariz. The difference in weight was enough to run the system. The carriages were open, nine metres long, with benches along the sides.
There were many problems with breakdowns in the water supply and this meant that the system was repeatedly out of order. As a result, the Company decided in 1886 to replace the system with a traction operation using steam power. The equipment was supplied by the German company Maschinnenfabrick, Esslingen and remained in service until the switch to electricity.
As early as 1903, the company, probably as a result of the appearance and rapid expansion of the trams, had asked foreign manufacturers for tenders for electrification of the system. Authorisation for the change, however, was only given in 1912.
There were two carriages linked by a cable and each acted as a counterweight to the other.
The line consisted of two rails which took the wheels of the funicular and two other along the slot where the cable passed.
Each carriage had a clamp connecting it to the cable and a powerful brake which worked by gripping the central wheels between two brake pads, one at the bottom, the other at the top. There was also another brake which operated by pressure on the rails. The carriages weighed nearly 10 tons and were powered by two electric motors, working in tandem so that each one could only begin when both brake operators started off at the same time, but each had a separate had operating mechanism which could stop both the funiculars. The carriages were closed in, there were seats along the sides and the entrance was at one end.
On 12 October 1916, the last work was being carried out near the Largo do Calhariz and one of the carriages was being placed on the rails when the brakes failed and the carriage hurtled out of control down the slope to the Station on the Rua de S. Paulo where it crashed, smashing into pieces.
As a result, the Bica funicular was out of service for a number of years until the City Council demanded that it should be brought back.
The system then adopted was different. The carriage motors were no longer used and power was supplied from an underground substation in the Largo do Calhariz.
On 27 June 1927, the Bica funicular was again operational. All three funiculars, Calçada do Lavra, Glória and Bica were declared to be national monuments in February 2002.

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Additional Photos by Giuseppe Maria Galasso (gmg) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 357 W: 74 N: 188] (4202)
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