Hastings Cliff Railways

The West Hill Lift.

NGR TQ822094

Work on this lift was started in January 1889 with the intention of an August opening. Objections to the plans caused major re-design and expensive delays, pushing up the cost from 10,000 to 16,000. A 363 ft tunnel was constructed, using an existing cave, at an inclination of 1 in 3. Power was supplied by a 40hp Crossley Gas Engine working through gearing to steel ropes attached to the passenger cars, in either direction, so that the cars would be under control at all times. Other safety measures were an automatic govenor to stop the lift if speed increased and automatic braking if the driving band broke. The lift was completed twenty months late on March 25th 1891. Financially, the lift was not a success because of the increased construction costs and it became bankrupt in 1894. A newly formed lift company operated it until 1947 at which time Hastings Borough Council Council bought the whole concern for the sum of 4,500. The entrance to The West Hill Lift is tucked away at the top of George Street in The Old Town. The lift makes a stately progress through a gloomy cavern, emerging onto the West Hill with its glorious panoramic views. For the less energetic this is a comfortable and convenient way to reach two of Hastings major attractions, The Castle and the Smugglers' Adventure.

Open April-September 10:00-17:30
October-March 11:00-16:00

Westlift Westlift track Westlift tunnel Westlift Lower Station

The Stats
Date Opened 28/8/1891Length 152 m
Gradient 1:3Track Gauge 1829 mm
Number of Cars 2Open to Public Yes
Funicular Type Classic FunicularTrack layout Twin Track
Power Source 1889-1924 Gas Fired Engine
1924-1971 Diesel Engine
1971- Electric
Railway Status In Use


East Hill Lift

NGR TQ827095

While the West Hill Lift was under construction an application for a lift to the East Hill was put before Hastings Borough Council by the original company. As the council had just spent 11,000 of public money to buy The East Hill they accepted the proposal. However, the problems with the West Hill Lift made them set aside the application. After the liquidation of the West Hill Company the council decided to carry out the East Hill project itself. A survey recommended a water balance lift as there was a good supply of water nearby. Excavation of the cliff provided work for many local men. The cutting, which at its deepest is over 120ft, carried the 22ft wide track at an incline of 1 in 1.28 for 265ft. The upper station, which gives the appearance of a castle, is sometimes mistaken by visitors for Hastings Castle. Each tower houses an iron tank containing about 1,200 gallons of water. Tanks beneath the passenger cars were filled from standpipes. The lower station, which looks like a chapel, was built over a 23ft-deep chamber containing the cross-over pulley round which the tail-rope passed from one track to the other. A tank held the discharged water and returned it to the top of the hill. The lift was finished in Spring 1902 at a cost of 6,000 and unlike its counterpart showed a profit. The Grand Opening was on April 9th, Coronation Day. During WW2 the military took charge of the East Hill Lift to serve installations on the cliff-top. Peace time found Hastings a popular holiday destination and the lift was a great attraction. In 1973 work began to update the lift to contemporary safety standards and the water balance was replaced with an electric motor. With new passenger cars to replace the mahogany framed originals, and at a total cost of 35,000 the lift re-opened in 1976. Today the lift takes passengers to the Hastings Country Park, 600 acres of unspoilt country countryside, splendid views, cliff-tops, glens and farmlands which can be enjoyed during a five-mile walk. The railway is currently Britains steepest at 1:1.128 although this was not always the case, both the Broadstairs and Margate railways were steeper.

Opening Hours. 1st April-end October 10:-17:30.

Eastlift Eastlift Lower Station Eastlift Carriage Eastlift Upper Station Eastlift track

Eastlift Eastlift track

Old Postcard Old Postcard

The Stats
Date Opened 9/4/1903Length 81 m
Gradient 1:1.28Track Gauge 1524 mm
Number of Cars 2Open to Public Yes
Funicular Type 1903-1976Counterbalanced Funicular

1976-Classic Funicular

Track layout Twin Track
Power Source 1903-1976Water

1976-Electric

Railway Status In Use