Unique Elevator: The Paternoster Lift


This elevator is very unique; there are no doors, and the elevator cars constantly move. One simply steps on and off of them at the desired floor. It is called a Paternoster lift, and while it looks like fun, it has been banned in many countries becuase of safety issues; people have tripped or even gotten crushed using them. Nevertheless, I’d love to find a building that has one so I could try it out! Below is an animated diagram that shows how they work, and a couple of videos of these unique elevators in action.



Paternosters were popular throughout the first half of the 20th century as they could carry more passengers than ordinary elevators. They were more common in continental Europe, especially in public buildings, than in the United Kingdom. They are rather slow elevators, typically travelling at about 0.3 metre per second, thus improving the chances of getting on and off successfully.

The construction of new paternosters is no longer allowed in many countries because of the high risk of accidents (people tripping or falling over when trying to enter or exit). In 2012, an 81-year-old man was killed when he fell into the shaft of a paternoster in The Hague. Elderly people, disabled people, and children are the most in danger of being crushed. In 1989, the paternoster in Newcastle University’s Claremont Tower was taken out of service after a passenger undertaking an up-and-over journey became caught in the drive chain, necessitating a rescue by the Fire Service. A conventional lift was subsequently installed in its place. At Stuttgart Town Hall in Germany there are at least 3 operating Paternosters which are accessible by the public.



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