West Hill Lift – engineers drop newly cast wheel in to place

On Wednesday morning the new wheel that will drive the West Hill funicular railway was dropped in to place.

The 127-year-old West Hill lift that connects George Street to the top of the West Hill was closed last summer after engineers spotted damage to the main drive wheel, then when the wheel was removed to allow repairs to go ahead the damage was discovered to be worse than first thought.

A speedy run-through of this morning's shenanigans with the lift drive-wheel going back into place on the West Hill…

Posted by John Bownas on Thursday, 19 March 2020
John Bownas – Hastings BID manager – created this piece of high-speed video showing the wheel being dropped in to place.

Kevin Boorman, marketing manager for the Hastings Borough Council (HBC), said at the time: “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 inspection 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. 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!”

On Wednesday morning the new wheel was dropped in to place by specialist engineers and now work can go ahead to recommission the popular funicular railway.

HBC had hoped to have the West Hill Lift open again by Easter and when Hastings In Focus asked what the plans for reopening were and whether the current Coronavirus issues would have an impact and council spokesman confirmed they were still aiming to open at Easter. They could not comment on any impact the current public health issues might have saying that relied on ‘government advice’.

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