Leas Lifts - Folkstone - March 22

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BikinGlynn

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Lea's Lifts

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Prob not really worth a report this one as I didnt actually "get in" but its not been covered & was a bit of fun & some may find it interesting.

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

The lift operates using water and gravity and is controlled from a small cabin at the top of the cliff. It has carried more than 36.4 million people since it opened, 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.

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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.

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

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Crofton Consulting was appointed as lead consultant to provide structural engineering design for the restoration. Crofton won the Building Structures award at the ACE Engineering Excellence Awards in May 2011 and won the Restoration award at the ICE Engineering Excellence Awards in June 2011 for its work on the lift.
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.
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.

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.

To date the lift remains closed

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The Explore

So I was down Folkstone for a few days with my lad & had checked this out from bottom & from the extremely busy top promenade the day before. Leaving my lad sound asleep I jumped the fence in the silence at 5.30 am.
I dropped down to the position in the above pic in under a min & almost immediately heard something. I looked up to see a drone directly above me!
Freezing for a min I assumed this was just a drone photographer as it slowly moved away but wonder what they will think when they examined their pics later lol.
Once this bit of adrenalin had passed a second thing occurred to me "shit this is steeper than it looks". realising though that the track is essentially a giant ladder I carried on with haste taking pics & my main aim of getting to the cars, to find out they are locked... of course!

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Lower building is still used as a cafe in case you were wondering

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And heavily guarded by gulls so thats where Ill leave this one.

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Thanks For Looking
 

Roderick

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There are no words for the contempt I feel for the HSE when they close places like this. All the cable cars you see in skiing areas have no secondary braking system but they seem to work just fine with regular inspections of well rated cables. Surely the 36 million people who have safely traveled could be considered to have tested it quite well.
 

BikinGlynn

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There are no words for the contempt I feel for the HSE when they close places like this. All the cable cars you see in skiing areas have no secondary braking system but they seem to work just fine with regular inspections of well rated cables. Surely the 36 million people who have safely traveled could be considered to have tested it quite well.
I agree its crazy, its been there 130yr Im sure it will be fine!
 

Hayman

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"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"
Well done, HSE. What "secondary fail-safe braking system" does the Lynton water-balanced lift have?
 

drodbar

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I was taken there a few times as a kid in the 80's. The tracks to the right, as you're standing at the bottom looking up, always used to fascinate me. I was told that there was no fail-safe mechanism (or whatever was in place broke) and the car at the top came hurtling down with several people on board, who were killed. All except for a child, who was protected by a soldier. Not sure how true that is, but it's one of the things that gave me a fascination with broken/decaying things.
 

BikinGlynn

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"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"
Well done, HSE. What "secondary fail-safe braking system" does the Lynton water-balanced lift have?
A giant air bag at the bottom should do it!
 

Hayman

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I was taken there a few times as a kid in the 80's. The tracks to the right, as you're standing at the bottom looking up, always used to fascinate me. I was told that there was no fail-safe mechanism (or whatever was in place broke) and the car at the top came hurtling down with several people on board, who were killed. All except for a child, who was protected by a soldier. Not sure how true that is, but it's one of the things that gave me a fascination with broken/decaying things.
If you go online. you can read about John Wessell who was a maintenance man on the lift. In 1896 he was cleaning the machinery while it was running, and he dropped a piece of cotton waste which he tried to retrieve. A moving wheel mangled his arm which had to be amputated. A photo (attached) shows the machinery as it is nowadays. An article headed "A History of the Leas Lift" records that there were two lifts side by side: the existing one built in 1885, and a second in 1890. That second one - which closed in 1966 and fell into derelction - had an accident that year, which led to the closure:

"The 1890 lift was damaged in a “heavy landing” that year [1966] and it was the cost of the improvements that its insurers demanded as a result that forced the Folkestone Lift Company out of business. The carriages from the 1890 lift were left on site, in a state of dereliction, until 1985 when one of them was sent to the Dover Transport Museum where it languished in a state of disrepair until last year. The other carriage was in such a poor state of repair in 1985 that it was turned into a bonfire on the beach across the road from the lower station. The tracks were left to rot in situ. The original 1885 lift survived and was initially run by Folkestone Borough Council until it was absorbed into the newly created Shepway District Council, which kept it going until June 2009 when it closed for financial reasons. A community interest group got together and reopened the lift in August 2010".

No mention of anyone being killed on either lift. And it was the insurers - not any government safety body - that saw the end of the second lift. Presumably the current insurers are happy with the safety of the 1885 lift, even if the HSE is not. I found accidents at other cliff lifts, but none involving deaths or serious injuries.






The tracks were left to rot in situ.

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Foxylady

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What a fabulous explore. Love seeing the close-ups of the cabins and machinery. I recently watched a YouTube video about the Lynton & Lynmouth cliff railway and it is really long and incredibly steep; I don't think I'd be happy going on that one, lol. The Folkstone one looks much friendlier and a great asset for tourism. :) I hope they continue to restore it. Cheers.
 

wolfism

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That's cool Glynn, fascinating piece of Victoriana. I took a ride on the water balance funicular at Saltburn after a trip to Redcar steelworks a few years back - it's fairly similar. Didn't realise that there were other cliff lifts still around though.
 

Hayman

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That's cool Glynn, fascinating piece of Victoriana. I took a ride on the water balance funicular at Saltburn after a trip to Redcar steelworks a few years back - it's fairly similar. Didn't realise that there were other cliff lifts still around though.
I went on the Lynton one some years go. And have been on many funiculars around the world.
 

helluvaname

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Hastings West Funicular/lift railway used to be water balanced but was converted to electric.
Not sure about Hastings West one, which goes up through a tunnel to the cliff top.

Great review, and such a travesty that it's been closed!
 

BikinGlynn

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What a fabulous explore. Love seeing the close-ups of the cabins and machinery. I recently watched a YouTube video about the Lynton & Lynmouth cliff railway and it is really long and incredibly steep; I don't think I'd be happy going on that one, lol. The Folkstone one looks much friendlier and a great asset for tourism. :) I hope they continue to restore it. Cheers.

Iv been on Lynton its pretty cool
 

BikinGlynn

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That's cool Glynn, fascinating piece of Victoriana. I took a ride on the water balance funicular at Saltburn after a trip to Redcar steelworks a few years back - it's fairly similar. Didn't realise that there were other cliff lifts still around though.
yeah there is a few left
 

BikinGlynn

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Hastings West Funicular/lift railway used to be water balanced but was converted to electric.
Not sure about Hastings West one, which goes up through a tunnel to the cliff top.

Great review, and such a travesty that it's been closed!

looks interesting taht Hastings one I have just had a google
 

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