Leas Lift

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Leas Lift
Leas Lift (2).JPG
Ownerthe Folkestone Estate (formerly the Radnor Estate)
LocaleFolkestone, Kent
CoordinatesCoordinates: 51°04′38″N 1°10′43″E / 51.0771°N 1.1785°E / 51.0771; 1.1785
TerminiSeafront (at the base)
the promenade (at the top)
Operator(s)Folkestone Leas Lift Company
Daily ridershipover 36.4 million people (since opened)

The Leas Lift is a grade II* listed funicular railway that carries passengers between the seafront and the promenade in Folkestone, Kent. Originally installed in 1885, it is one of the oldest water lifts in the UK.[1][2]

The lift operates using water and gravity and is controlled from a small cabin at the top of the cliff.[3] It has carried more than 36.4 million people since it opened,[4] in a process that is especially energy efficient. The lift has a very small carbon footprint, as it emits no pollution and recycles all of the water used to drive the cars.[5]

On June 1991, the lift was seen in an episode of The Darling Buds of May. David Jason, Pam Ferris, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Philip Franks, Anna Massey and Moray Watson all appeared.[6]

In June 2009, Folkestone and Hythe District Council’s lease ran out and it was decided that the lift was too expensive to run.[1] Campaigners subsequently protested against the closure of the lift and in April 2010, it was announced that the lift was to be restored.[7][8]

Restoration works[edit]

Crofton Consulting was appointed as lead consultant to provide structural engineering design for the restoration.[9] Crofton won the Building Structures award at the ACE Engineering Excellence Awards in May 2011[10][11] and won the Restoration award at the ICE Engineering Excellence Awards in June 2011 for its work on the lift.[12] G A Harpers was appointed as the main contractor to carry out the necessary construction work.[13]

The renovation involved replacing the mechanical and electrical wiring and ensuring that all necessary safety standards in the two cars, the control systems and stations, were met. There was also a focus on restoring the associated power pumps that control the lift at the top and bottom stations.

The wheel bearings on the lift cars were all found to be damaged by corrosion so the wheels were re-machined to provide the correct running profile. Additionally, the corroded steelwork support structures within the buried water storage tanks, which were leaking, were inspected and replaced.[14]

The operation of the Folkestone lift was then taken over by The Folkestone Leas Lift Community Interest Company on behalf of the community as a non-profit-making organisation. It opened the attraction as a living museum.[5]

In January 2017, the lift again closed temporarily following an HSE inspection which determined that a secondary fail-safe braking system must be installed before the lift could be re-opened. £80,000 was raised to conduct the preliminary works required to reinstate the lift, including a full engineering survey. A new company, the Folkestone Leas Lift Company (FLLC) was set up and with funding from the Radnor Estate and the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust. The FLLC's aim is to raise funds to help repair the lift, and to create and implement a sustainable long-term plan for its operation.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Coastal water lift on Folkestone cliffs reopened". BBC News. 26 July 2010. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  2. ^ "The Leas Lift, Including Waiting Rooms, Brake Houses and Railings, Folkestone". British Listed Buildings. Retrieved 22 December 2013.
  3. ^ How the Lift Works, The Folkestone Leas Lift Community Interest Company Archived 27 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Folkestone’s Leas Lifts Archived 23 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine, The Grand
  5. ^ a b The Folkestone Leas Lift Community Interest Company Archived 18 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Taylor, Alan F. (2002). Folkestone Past and Present. Somerset: Breedon Books. pp. 22–24. ISBN 1859832962.
  7. ^ "Coastal water lift on Folkestone cliffs to be restored". BBC News. 6 April 2010. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  8. ^ "Restored Folkestone Step Lift Carriage comes home (Photos)". Hawkinge Gazette. 21 March 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  9. ^ "Leas Lift". Crofton Consulting.
  10. ^ "ACE Engineering Excellence Awards 2011 winners announced". Association for Consultancy and Engineering. Archived from the original on 28 March 2012.
  11. ^ "Engineers uplifted by award". This Is Kent. Archived from the original on 2 April 2012.
  12. ^ "Engineer Crofton scoops another award for restoration of Leas Lift, Folkestone, Kent". The Construction Index. 7 July 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  13. ^ "GA Harpers Refurbishment and Alteration Works". harpers. Retrieved 29 September 2020.
  14. ^ "Crofton restores Grade II Listed Leas Lift to former glory". The Construction Index. 10 January 2011. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
  15. ^ Ashton, Ben (29 September 2017). "Funding has been secured to carry out works and reopen the Leas Lift in Folkestone". Kent Live. Retrieved 25 February 2020.

External links[edit]