Leas Lift

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Leas Lift (2)

Originally installed in 1885, in Folkestone, Kent, the Grade II Listed[1] Leas Lift is a funicular railway which carries passengers between the seafront and the promenade. It is one of the oldest water lifts in the UK.[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 50 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, one of the lifts was seen in an episode of The Darling Buds of May (TV series). David Jason, Pam Ferris, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Philip Franks, Anna Massey and Moray Watson all appeared on the lift.[6]

In June 2009, Shepway District Council’s lease ran out and it was decided that the lift was too expensive to run.[2] 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 Design, the consulting engineers responsible for the Leas Lift restoration, was appointed as lead consultant to provide structural engineering design.[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 their work on the lift.[12] G A Harpers were 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]

Present day[edit]

125 years after it first opened, the operation of the Folkestone lift has been taken over by 'The Folkestone Leas Lift Community Interest Company'. The company operates the lift on behalf of the community as a non-profit-making organisation and has opened the attraction as a living museum.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Leas Lift, Including Waiting Rooms, Brake Houses and Railings, Folkestone". www.britishlistedbuildings.co.uk. Retrieved 22 December 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Coastal water lift on Folkestone cliffs reopened, BBC News
  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, 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
  8. ^ Restored Folkestone Step Lift Carriage comes home, Hawking Gazette & Channel Coast News
  9. ^ Leas Lift, Crofton Design
  10. ^ ACE Engineering Excellence Awards 2011 winners announced, ACE
  11. ^ Engineers uplifted by award, This is Kent
  12. ^ Engineer Crofton scoops another award for restoration of Leas Lift, Folkestone, Kent, ICE
  13. ^ GA Harpers
  14. ^ Crofton restores Grade II Listed Leas Lift to former glory, The Construction Index

Coordinates: 51°04′38″N 1°10′43″E / 51.0771°N 1.1785°E / 51.0771; 1.1785