A paternoster (//, //, 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 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. Another one can be found at the IG Farben building In Frankfurt am Main. The much smaller Belt manlift which consists of an endless belt with steps and rungs but no compartments is also sometimes called a Paternoster.
Subsequently, 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). In 2012, an 81-year-old man was killed when he fell into the shaft of a paternoster in The Hague. Elderly 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 lift was subsequently installed in its place.
In April 2006, Hitachi announced plans for a modern paternoster-style elevator with computer-controlled cars and normal elevator doors to alleviate safety concerns. A prototype has been revealed as of February 2013.
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- "Development of basic drive technology improve innovative transportation capacity of the elevator "circulating multi-car elevator"". News Release (in Japanese). Hitachi. 1 March 2006. Retrieved 12 July 2010.Google translation
- "Cyclic Multicar Elevator" (in Japanese). Hitachi. June 25, 2013.
|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
- Paternoster at the NIG ("Neues Institutsgebäude") - University of Vienna. In operation until 2007 Videodocumentation from 1996