The History of the Lift

The team here at Sheridan Lifts thought we would dedicate today’s blog to the history of the lift and how we came to know this magnificent piece of machinery. After all, if there was no such thing as a lift there would be no Sheridan Lifts.

The lifts History

The very first recorded report of a lift was cited back in1st century BC by a Roman architect and engineer named Marcus Vitruvius Polio. His account narrated that Archimedes built a lift somewhere around the time of 236 BC. At the time lifts were described as cabs on hemp ropes that were hoisted up either by hand or animals.

In 1000 the book of secrets by Al-Muradi in Islamic Spain told the tale of an elevator-like lifting device that was used to raise a large battering ram to destroy fortresses. Now heading on over to the 17th century, and a little closer to home, prototypes of the lift were found in palace buildings in France and England. Medieval and ancient lifts used drive systems based on hoists or winders. The invention of a system based on a screw drive was the most substantial step towards the modernisation of the lifts we see today.

In 19th century London two architects, Burton and Hormer, designed an ‘ascending room’ as a tourist attraction to elevate paying customers to a panoramic view of the city, shortly after New Yorker Henry Waterman was accredited with inventing the ‘standing rope control’ for the lift. And in 1852, another American who went by the name of Elisha Otis pioneered in lift engineering when he created the first ‘safety elevator’ which prevented the fall of a cab if the cable broke. This design is still to some extent similar to the lift design that is still in use today.

In 1880 German engineer Werner von Siemens invented the first electric elevator; this was closely followed by the enhancement of electric elevators by Frank Sprague who added floor control, acceleration control of cars, & automatic lifts. Thus, producing the first fast moving lifts, and in 1887, American Inventor Alexander Miles patented an elevator with automatic doors that would close off the elevator shaft, which is the very patent that is used in the production of today’s lifts.

So there you have it lift geeks, a history of invention and innovation that led to the eventual establishment of lift engineers like us here at Sheridan Lifts. If you wish to learn more about the evolution of lifts, read our other article here.

Our lift engineers are amongst some of the finest in the country, equipped with state of the art tools and a well-versed knowledge of all things lifts, so if you’re in need of lift engineers, give us a call today on 0161 203 6299.