Ramsgate Cliff Lifts, Kent
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Wellington Crescent Lift (pictured): As the earlier of Ramsgate's two surviving cliff lifts ('Marine Lift' has sadly been demolished), the Wellington Crescent Lift was designed with the traditional flair of Edwardians. Whereas the West Cliff Lift is bold and functional, this lift was built not only to fulfil a need, but also to be admired. Completed and opened in 1912, the lift at Wellington Crescent comprises a red brick shaft with ornate masonry work at the top spelling the word 'lift'. A series of sash windows run down the front of the shaft, and the building was crowned with a dome. Both the lower and upper entrances to the lift have been enhanced by the use of geometric tiles.

The single car was probably installed by Waygood Otis, and originally carried 20 passengers. This was replaced during the 1950s when problems were experienced with the brick shaft cracking. As a result, a steel tower had to be erected within the shaft, and a slightly smaller car was installed which reduced passenger capacity to 16.

When lift operations ceased during the 1990s, the buildings soon fell into a state of disrepair but, unlike the West Cliff Lift, this lift was given another chance. A regeneration scheme for the seafront area included a £220,000 restoration plan for the Wellington Crescent Lift, and it re-opened on 23rd April 1999. Today the lift continues to be attendant operated, and is open (free of charge) from Easter to September.

West Cliff Lift: Very little is known about West Cliff Lift, situated at the end of West Cliff Promenade, adjoining Prince Edward Promenade. Sir John Burnet and Partners are believed to be responsible for its construction, the lift opening in c1926. The use of fairly austere concrete for the main shaft is typical of buildings associated with the 'Art Deco' era. Initially comprising solely of a vertical shaft, housing a single lift car capable of carrying 20 passengers, the overall structure today appears much larger due to the vast amount of additional concrete added to the flanks of the shaft, to stablise the cliff face. It is not known exactly when this additional work was carried out.

The most notable feature of this lift is the graduated blue glass tiles that run the entire length of the shaft, making an unusually 'soft' contrast to the stark concrete casing. Grade II listed in 1988, the West Cliff Lift has not been in service since 1993 and, at present, there appear to be no plans to re-open it. Notwithstanding its closed state, it remains an impressive structure of the period and is certainly worth a visit when in the area.

 

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