Originally installed in 1885, in Folkestone
Folkestone is the principal town in the Shepway District of Kent, England. Its original site was in a valley in the sea cliffs and it developed through fishing and its closeness to the Continent as a landing place and trading port. The coming of the railways, the building of a ferry port, and its...
, Kent, the Grade II Listed 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.
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 50 million people since it opened, in a process that is especially energy efficient. The lift has a very small carbon footprint
A carbon footprint has historically been defined as "the total set of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organization, event, product or person.". However, calculating a carbon footprint which conforms to this definition is often impracticable due to the large amount of data required, which is...
as it emits no pollution and recycles all of the water used to drive the cars.
In June 2009, Shepway 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.
Crofton Design, the consulting engineers responsible for the Leas Lift restoration, was appointed as lead consultant to provide structural engineering design. Crofton won the ‘Building Structures’ award at the ACE
Association for Consultancy and Engineering is a British business association in the field of consultancy and engineering. ACE is a member-based association of around 650 large and small firms, operating across many different disciplines....
Engineering Excellence Awards in May 2011 and won the ‘Restoration’ award at the ICE
Founded on 2 January 1818, the Institution of Civil Engineers is an independent professional association, based in central London, representing civil engineering. Like its early membership, the majority of its current members are British engineers, but it also has members in more than 150...
Engineering Excellence Awards in June 2011 for their work on the lift. G A Harpers were appointed as the main contractor to carry out the necessary construction work.
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.
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.