Financial Viability FAQ: link to question and initial answer
Further response 11 April 2013:
Lessons from Devil's Dyke and History (11 April 2013)
1. Cheddar has Britain's largest, finest southernmost limestone gorge (page this website) so there may be lessons to learn from Devil's Dyke in the Sussex South Downs, Britain's longest, deepest, widest dry valley link,
also an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Both dry gorge and dry
valley were formed by meltwater at the end of the Ice Age (e.g. link).
2. The cable car at Devil's Dyke lasted for just 15 years, from 1894 to circa 1909 link.
As the 'Worthing Wanderer' comments, you can still see remnants of the
Victorian theme park at Devil's Dyke, where, as he says, the funicular railway and cable car
were both "flops" link. It is notable that the Devil's Dyke cable car etc failed before the closure of its railway station in 1939. link.
3. The branch railway to Cheddar arrived in 1869, and closed in 1965, axed by Beeching (ref Strawberry Line). Commerical tourism in Cheddar Gorge also began in Victorian times (1837-1901, Wikipedia) and expanded in the Edwardian era (1901-1910, Wikipedia).
Cox's show cave was discovered and developed in 1837/38, and Gough's
cave about 40 years later. (Ref. "Little Cottages in Cheddar Gorge
1860-1880" Cheddar U3A Link).
The Cliff Hotel (now Cox's Mill and derelict), was established in the
late 19th century and became a focal point for popular day trips, in a
time when travel required more effort, by horse and carriage, and by
steamer from Wales. (Ref 'Victorian Visitors to the Cliff Hotel &
Pleasure Gardens in Cheddar Gorge" Cheddar U3A link).
Historic tourism at Devil's Dyke and Cheddar Gorge suggests that simple
novelty may be the usual reason an 'attraction' takes hold. If so,
from the outset, there too is the source of failure. Interest is
fickle, so novelty wears off, followed by reduced interest, dereliction
and business failures. Whereas, lower key appreciation of the natural
landscape is enduring.