Paternoster Lifts: Dangerous, Obsolete and Quite Fun (including over the top!)


This is a paternoster lift. There are only
a few working examples of these left in the world, like this one at the Arts Tower of
Sheffield University. It is an open elevator shaft with a series
of connected carriages going round and round and round in it on a constant loop. One side goes up; and one side goes down and
you just get in and out. This is a 20-storey building, by the way, so this is a long chain.
A paternoster can carry more passengers than a regular lift, although obviously there’s
a bit more danger of trips, falls and injuries. This particular lift has a lot of extra safety
features to stop people getting injured too. But for that reason, and because they’re inaccessible
to anyone who can’t walk or is carrying big things, or can’t walk well — and because there aren’t many companies in
the world who can build or refurbish them any more — they aren’t installed. And those that are left tend to get ripped
out of old buildings and replaced. But Sheffield kept theirs: and they also have some more
standard lifts just in case. Now, I can’t stay in this lift as it goes
over the top. Thank you Chris — I’d unbalance the whole thing and I’d risk
it getting shut down and the fire brigade coming in and turfing me out. But what I can
do is leave this little GoPro camera in to show you what it’s like to go over the top.
So: I’ll see you in a couple of minutes. Here we go. See you in a minute! I’m looking forward to seeing the footage
from this. [Translating these subtitles? Add your name here!]

Maurice Vega

100 Responses

  1. I travelled(?) in a Paternoster myself and even over the top. There was just a warning written in Germany basically saying you should exit but further travel is not dangerous

  2. "Pater noster, qui es in caelis sanctificetur nomen tuum….." You should say that before entering and leaving this thing, that's why it's called that way.

  3. I can name at least three different places in Prague that have these, two being publically accessible. Growing up around them, they never struck me as something unusual.

  4. we have one of thoes in the flemmings hotel in frankfurt germany, was a experience but even i was afraid to get in and out of them.

  5. The last time I watched a brit avoid going over the top it involved a sarcastic captain, a naïve Leftenant, and Field marshal Haig

  6. I still have nightmares about the one at leicester polytechnic in 1970's
    I didn't know you could ride over and thought i was going to be crushed in the cogs when i didnt got off in time.

  7. We have one of these in my city. One day I decided to give it a try. Oh boy was that a mistake. Turns out that I'm not afraid to hop on but I'm terrified of getting of. I gotta admit that I went over the top because I didn't realize that I missed the last floor. Whoops.

  8. They could just put spining blades once you went all the way up, then the chamber will close in and it begins to be on fire. Then a sign that reads.. "we were just kidding about it not being dangerous"

  9. Always wondered about these lifts, the only one I have seen was in a hospital in the seventies. Looked good but wasn't sure how safe they were.

  10. Been over the top of one of those.

    They're still present all over the place in the Danish parliament building, and I was a student intern there 7 or 8 years ago. They're really quite fun to travel in.

  11. Rode this one in Sheffield last year, there wasn’t any warnings about not getting off and I stayed on while it rotated round at the bottom. Maybe they changed the rules, or is it just the top where you have to get off?

  12. I rode one in Germany. What an experience! I have not ever forgotten about it. Is there any in the south west states of the USA? 😃🤔

  13. I've been in this…. more than once but couldn't remember where it was. I couldn't even remember the city.
    This was definitely the one though. I remember the place well now.

  14. I went around the bottom of a paternoster lift before and it was just as boring exept that you could see the motor that was powering the lift

  15. The University of Essex also has one. Tons of freshers sneak onto it and go over the top or bottom.
    It did break down a while ago and since they need specialists to repair it, it was out of service for about 3 months or something

  16. Done staying in while it went from up to down once or twice since the building my mother used to work in had one. But it's wracked now. So sad. But I never did the other way round

  17. There is one better lift I have used, it is generally used in grain silos, it's called a belt lift. It is a vertical conveyor belt with small platforms to stand on, and by small I mean 18" wide and 12" deep. Now imagine riding that up 150 ft or so 🙂 they are awsome but unfortunately they won't be around much longer

  18. That wants shutting down. Some fool is going to injure themselves, and the University will end up with a big law suit

  19. This thing appeared in one of my dreams a couple months back ( i somehow remember it) even though i had no idea these elevators existed.

  20. D'you suppose that if you had someone of roughly equal weight in the exact opposite car, going round the bottom while you went round the top, then the mechanism wouldn't be subject to stopping or breaking?

  21. The office building where I worked (built in the mid 1960s) had a postal distribution system based on the paternoster principal. When I heard that name I thought it meant it worked if you prayed hard enough! 🙂

  22. There was a pater noster in Prague, back in the 60’s. When I was a kid, my father and I DID go over the top, being very naughty. The cab does stay upright as it transits to the neighbouring shaft. I remember seeing some big mechanical wheels at the top. But that one was only 4-5 floors, as I recall. It’s hard to believe that more people don’t get killed or injured by that thing. Probably no longer exists. 😬🤷‍♂️

  23. We had one in our headquarters building in West Germany. It has been turned over to be used as a university. You could go round and round all day and night if you wanted.

  24. We used to have one at Northwick Park Hospital in London which had 2 advantages

    1 – a staff only lift that saved waiting to deal with the inefficient normal lift system

    2 – one of the consultants used to put a medical student in each cubicle and ask them a question as they came round. Only allowed off if they answered enough correctly.

  25. There's one in Prague and I've always been scared to go over the top because somebody told me that the cabin folds itself… Because I am reasonable person I don't believe that.. and that's also why I'm so scared of it 😂

  26. There is an old multi level parking garage in my town. It was a complete full service valet parking complex. You pull in, a valet takes your car, washes it and tops off the fuel tank than parks it. There was an elevator just liked this but it was small and only provided a platform for a single foot than a handle halfway between the platforms to hold onto with your hand. It traveled up four stories than down four stores. Very sketchy looking. It was not in service do to it being too much of a liability. But back in the day it was a functioning device used alot. Very interesting.

  27. Essex university library had one which I tried long time ago, I think you can only use them with students as when you get older your co-ordination might not be 100% every time – and it needs to be with these things.

  28. I rode in one of these when I was a guest at the Prague Technical University in the summer of 1995.

    That was the only time I've seen one.

  29. There are so many design ideas that would make this so much safer. Whoever designed this was lazy. You can't go over the top? Pfft.

  30. Are they called Paternoster lifts because each time you use one you have to pray that your legs won't be cut off?

  31. Can’t remember which year the Arts tower opened, but I can remember riding on it when my girlfriend was in her second year, back in ‘68. We now have two wonderful children and four delightful grandkids. Ah, happy days.

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