Helen (heleninwales) wrote,

Obsolete, dangerous and terrifying

Over on a friend's FB they are discussing lifts -- or I should probably say "elevators" as the question relates to a book set in America. An off-topic comment linked to this video about paternoster lifts, saying that they'd never encountered one. Well I have I have and they are terrifying.

Perhaps there was a fashion for them at one time in university tower blocks in the North of England, but I encountered a paternoster lift in the chemistry department of Salford university in 1969. I'd put the university on my list of possible choices and spent a day there being shown around the department with other potential students. Perhaps you get better at using them with practice, but I found it difficult to judge the speed and distance. When you're getting out of one on the way up, the floor you're aiming for is dropping away. When you're getting in to a lift that is ascending, the floor you're trying to step on is rising. It was also very unnerving to see lab assistants in white coats carrying large carboys of liquid chemicals casually hopping in and out. The paternoster lifts were a large part of why I crossed Salford off my list of universities I wanted to attend!

The video shows what actually happens when the lifts go over the top and start to descend, but rumour was that the lifts tipped over so the ceiling because the floor. Apparently the Salford chemistry students used to sometimes prank visitors by standing on their heads in descending lifts.


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