Paternoster: The lift that went over the top


Strangely, as I was filling in the 22 page form that should hopefully allow me to claim my UK state pension later this year,  a memory of my previous working life popped into my head.

In the early 1970s I was working  at Heathrow Airport for British Airways, which had just been created by the merger of BOAC and BEA.  Although I worked in the Queens Building in the airport's central area I often had to visit offices out in the engineering section on the edge of the airport.

One of these buildings had a paternoster lift which I had to use - very reluctantly.  If you have ever seen one of these you may appreciate that it was a little daunting, having to judge your timing in order to jump in then jump out at the right moment when you wanted to get off.

I found this short video which explains how they work, and shows a group of young students who still have the opportunity to use one of the last remaining paternosters in the UK.



36 comments:

  1. I'd have hated having to use one of those. I dislike on/off of escalators, and I imagine those lifts would be 10 times worse!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was going to say there was one at the university where I went to (Leicester) and then I saw THAT was where the video was filmed. We used to love staying in the box and going up to the very top where it went sideways and you saw the mechanism working before you headed downwards again. I went back to Leicester for a reunion in 2019 and the paternoster lift has been removed. Such a shame.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, perhaps that video I found is an old one, made before the lift was removed.

      Delete
  3. A girl went over the top of the paternoster lift when I was working at Newcastle University in the early 1970s. A Romanian student, she died. I will never forget that day. The lift was never used after that. Funny because this is the second comment today where I have mentioned my time at Newcastle. I didn't know there were any paternoster lifts left.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As ADDY mentioned above it seems the last one has now gone.

      Delete
  4. I am pleased to see a mention of the Arts Tower at Sheffield University which I used to visit quite often. I think the lift there is still in use. Perhaps Mr YP would investigate and report back on the experience of going over the top.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mr YP often goes over the top, doesn't he?

      Delete
    2. Actually having seen what happened when somebody went over the top this is not funny. She died of head injuries.

      Delete
    3. I am sure it was quite a horrendous experience, Rachel.

      Delete
    4. Looking on Wikipedia, there was an horrific accident at Newcastle when one of the cars came off its guide rail at the top of the lift. Normally it would be OK to stay in with top or bottom.

      Delete
    5. I believe you saw what you did but am not so sure about the cause. Aren't the cars basically hard boxes that slide sideways at the top and bottom keeping their contents safe? The Newcastle accident was because a car came off the guiderail.

      Delete
    6. All I know is we were told that she was going over the top and an accident happened and she died. We were told not to ever go to the top beyond the last floor. Perhaps it was a freak set of circumstances.

      Delete
  5. You've gotta be joking! I might have given it a go when I was 20. A challenge for the young who have not fear.
    Now I'd take one look and run for the stairs cross myself, uttering a prayer....or a curse

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've never seen one for humans but they are, or were, quite common in hotels for putting dishes etc on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like a dumb waiter contraption?

      Delete
    2. I could do with one of those for sending tea and biscuits upstairs to P in his den.

      Delete
  7. When I saw what you were posting about, I immediately thought of The University of Sheffield Arts Tower and there it was in the video! I have been on that curious lift but I didn't like it - didn't feel entirely safe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rachel mentioned that an unfortunate girl died from her injuries using one of these lifts. I never felt happy using the one at work.

      Delete
  8. Thanks for the uplifting post JayCee. I get really confused when I go in those big city stores like John Lewis. Some doors say 'Pull' so I Pull. Another says 'Push' so I push. Then when it says 'Lift' I lift and trap my fingers.🤔

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you get scared when you see a sign that says Alarm ?

      Delete
  9. I actually would not like this at all.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've never encountered such things; I've lived a very sheltered life.

    ReplyDelete
  11. There's still one working in the library at the University of Essex - recently refurbished, I believe. I'd rather take the stairs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The stairs are a safer option, and good exercise !

      Delete
  12. My husband was at the college in Leicester where the first paternoster in the film was. I have been on it when we visited years after to see an art show!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had to use the BA building one on a regular basis. The staircase didn't seem to be accessible from the entrance lobby; I'm sure there must have been stairs but I never found them.

      Delete
  13. As I recall, the Oxford Uni Engineering block had a paternoster in the 1970s. Certainly that one had no problem with going over the top or bottom - it was not uncommon if in conversation to miss ones floor and simply go over the top and jump out on the way down.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never felt brave enough to go over the top so always made sure to be ready to jump out!

      Delete
  14. I've used a Paternoster lift, but I can't recall where. Only once - never again! They are worse than getting into a lift for the first time, as I did, to find that it had a glass floor!

    ReplyDelete

Although I am quite used to talking to myself, any comments on my posts are very welcome, provided they are not abusive. I do reply to them so please check back. It's good to talk (!)