A paternoster (pron.: //, //, or //) or paternoster lift is a passenger elevator which consists of a chain of open compartments (each usually designed for two persons) that move slowly in a loop up and down inside a building without stopping. Passengers can step on or off at any floor they like. The same technique is also used for filing cabinets to store great amounts of (paper) documents or for small spare parts. As a result of safety issues, many such lifts have been shut down, however a small few survive around the world. The largest of these is located in the Arts Tower at the University of Sheffield, which also remains the tallest university-owned building in the UK.[dead link]
First built in 1884 by the Dartford, England, engineering firm of J & E Hall as the Cyclic Elevator, the name paternoster ("Our Father", the first two words of the Lord's Prayer in Latin) was originally applied to the device because the elevator is in the form of a loop and is thus similar to rosary beads used as an aid in reciting prayers.
Paternosters were popular throughout the first half of the 20th century as they could carry more passengers than ordinary elevators. They were more common in continental Europe, especially in public buildings, than in the United Kingdom. They are rather slow elevators, typically travelling at about 0.3 metre per second, thus improving the chances of getting on and off successfully.
The construction of new paternosters is no longer allowed in many countries because of the high risk of accidents (people tripping or falling over when trying to enter or exit). Five people were killed by paternosters from 1970 to 1993. An 81-year-old man was killed in 2012 when he fell into the shaft. Old people, disabled people, and children are the most in danger of being crushed. In 1989, the paternoster in Newcastle University's Claremont Tower was taken out of service after a passenger undertaking an up-and-over journey became caught in the drive chain, necessitating a rescue by the Fire Service. A conventional elevator was subsequently installed in its place. This accident led to an 18-month close-down of all UK paternosters for a safety review, during which additional safety devices were fitted.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Paternoster|
- A clip of new students trying a Paternoster in Leicester
- The Elevator Museum
- List and photos of paternoster lifts (German)
- Paternosters still in operation in Germany, Switzerland, and Austria (German)
- Link to a tour of the University of Essex Albert Sloman library in England with picture of the paternoster lift
- Pages about history of paternosters in the world and especially in the Czech Republic (Czech) — List of all paternosters in Prague with information and photographs; technical directives of the European Union for paternosters
- History and photos of the I.G. Farben Building (now the Poelzig-Bau) in Frankfurt/M, Germany, famous for its paternosters
- Information and photos regarding the GEC Marconi paternoster featured in "The Prisoner" TV series
- A short video of the operating paternoster in Leipzig