It may be either vertically moving, like the ship lifts in Germany, Belgium, the lift at "Les Fontinettes" in France or the Anderton boat lift in England, or rotational, like the Falkirk Wheel in Scotland.
The first known boat lift was a 2.5 ton tub boat lift on the Churprinz mining canal in Halsbrücke near Dresden. It lifted boats 7 metres without the use of caissons. The lift operated between 1789 and 1868. For a period of time after the opening of the Churprinz lift boat lifts were of an experimental nature with the engineer James Green reporting that 5 had been built between 1796 and 1830. He credited the invention to Dr James Anderson of Edinburgh. Erasmus Darwin's Commonplace Book dated 1777–1778 includes a design for a canal lift based on balanced water filled caissons on page 58-59
An example of these early lifts was the one constructed at Mells on the Dorset and Somerset Canal. Lifts on the tub boat section of the Grand Western Canal entered into operation in 1835 becoming the first non experimental boat lifts in Britain.
1904 the Peterborough Lift Lock designed by Richard Birdsall Rogers opened in Canada. The lift system is operated by gravity alone, with the upper bay of the two bay system loaded with an additional 30 cm of water as to give it greater weight.
Before the construction of the Three Gorges Dam Ship Lift, the highest boat lift, with a 73.15 metre height difference and European Class IV (1350 tonne) capacity, was the Strépy-Thieu boat lift in Belgium.
The ship lift at the Three Gorges Dam, completed in January 2016, is 113 meters high and able to lift vessels of up to 3,000 tons displacement.
The boat lift at Longtan is reported to be even higher in total with a maximum vertical lift of 179m in two stages when completed.
Selected lift locks
|Name||Location||Opened||Displacement||Dimensions||Vertical lift||Cycle time||Notes|
|Three Gorges dam ship lift||China||2016||3000 tons||280 x 35 x 5 metres||113 metres||30–40 minutes|
|Henrichenburg boat lift||Germany||1962||90 x 12 x 3 metres||14 metres|
|Krasnoyarsk Dam ship lift||Russia||1982||1500 tons||90 x 18 x 2.2 metres||104 metres||90 minutes|
|Ronquières inclined plane lift||Belgium||1968||1350 tons||91 x 12 x 3.7 metres||67.73 metres||22 minutes |
|Strépy-Thieu boat lift||Belgium||2002||1350 tons||112 x 12 metres x 3.35 metres||73.15 metres||7 minutes|
|Scharnebeck twin ship lift||Germany||1974||1350 tons||105.4 x 15.8 x 3.4 metres||38 metres||3 minutes|
|Niederfinow boat lift||Germany||1934||85 x 12 x 2.5 metres||36 metres||20 minutes|
|Peterborough lift lock||Canada||1904||1300 tons||42.7 x 10.1 x 2.1 metres||19.8 metres||10 minutes|
|Kirkfield Lift Lock||Canada||1907||1300 tons||42.7 x 10.1 x 2.1 metres||14.9 metres||10 minutes|
|Rothensee boat lift||Germany||1938||1000 tons||85 x 12.2 x ? metres||16 metres||20 minutes|
|Falkirk Wheel||UK||2002||600 tons||21.33 x 6.0 x 1.37 metres||24 metres||4 minutes|
|Henrichenburg boat lift||Germany||1962||600 tons||67 x 8.2 x 2 metres||14 metres||25 minutes|
|Danjiangkou Dam||China||?||450 tons|
|Geheyan Dam ship lift||China||1987||300 tons|
|Longtan Dam ship lift||China||2009?||250 tons||40 x 10.8 x 1.8 metres||68.5 metres||claimed to be the "fastest ship-lift in the world"|
|Canal du Centre boat lifts||Belgium||1888–1917||360 tons/350 tons||40.1 x 5.06 x 2 metres||16.93 - 15.4 metres||three lifts each 16.93 m high plus one 15.4 m high|
|Fontinettes boat lift||France||1881–88||300 tons||39 x 5.2 x 2 metres||13.13 metres||5 minutes|
|Anderton boat lift||UK||1875||250 tons||22.9 x 4.7 x 2.9 metres||15.25 metres|
- List of boat lifts
- Lock (water transport)
- Balance lock
- Canal inclined plane – another technique for lifting boats.
- Caisson lock: a submerged boat lift.
- Shiplift – used for raising vessels in shipyards
- Marine railway inclined plane for shipyards
- Water slope
- Saint-Louis-Arzviller boat lift, France – which is actually a canal inclined plane
- Portable boat lift
- Charles Hadfield World Canals: Inland Navigation Past and Present Page 71 ISBN 0-7153-8555-0
- The Canals of Southwest England Charles Hadfield Page 104 ISBN 0-7153-8645-X
- "revolutionaryplayers.org.uk". Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
- The Canals of Southwest England Charles Hadfield Page 109 ISBN 0-7153-8645-X
- "Long Tan Hydroelectric Dam". 2007. Retrieved 2010-05-20.
- "The inclined plane of Ronquières". Retrieved 1 September 2016.
- Tew, David (1984). Canal Inclines and Lifts. Sutton Books. ISBN 0-86299-031-9.
- Uhlemann, Hans-Joachim (2002). Canal lifts and inclines of the world (English Translation ed.). Internat. ISBN 0-9543181-1-0.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Boat lifts.|
- "The lift-locks on the Canal du Centre, at Houdeng and Strépy-Thieu, Belgium". 2005-05-14. Retrieved 2007-09-14. Source mentions its own sources
- The International Canal Monuments List
- ^ Three Gorges Dam
- Big Chute, Ontario – in fact an inclined plane
- Twin Ship Elevator Lüneburg - Technical data of the Scharnebeck twin ship lift near Lüneburg, Germany
- Dutch boat lift page