The West Hill lift, the 127-year-old funicular railway connecting George Street to the top of the West Hill in Hastings Old Town, will remain closed for longer than expected.
Kevin Boorman, marketing manager for the Hastings Borough Council, explained: “We are very disappointed to learn that the damage to the West Hill lift’s main drive wheel is more serious than originally thought.
“We had been advised that it could be repaired and it was taken to a foundry in Rotherham for the work to be carried out. However, a detailed magnetic particle/dye penetration inspection carried out on the wheel at the foundry – which couldn’t be undertaken on-site – has shown serious cracks around the central hub. Our specialist engineer has concerns that if the cracks were repaired, other weaknesses might develop. Their recommendation is to replace the wheel, which we accept.
“We are awaiting costs and timescale estimates – when built 127 years ago these wheels were commonly produced for collieries, but the new wheel has to be designed and cast individually – but the lift is likely to remain closed for some time.
“We know the lift is popular with visitors and used by residents on the West Hill and we are very sorry indeed that the lift will have to stay closed. So far as we are aware this is the first time we’ve had a serious problem in 127 years, so we can’t be too critical of the engineers who built it!”