Essential Funding for Leas Lift Funicular Railway


The restoration of the unique mechanism that powers Folkestone’s Leas Lift has been given a £200,000 boost thanks to a grant from Historic England.

Currently on the organisation’s Heritage at Risk Register, the Leas Lift is one of only three remaining water-balanced lifts in the UK.

The funding will be used to replace the eight-foot-wide pulley wheel – or sheave wheel – that is essential for the raising and lowering of the passenger cars.

Cathy Beare, Chair of the Folkestone Leas Lift Company Charity, said: “After sending the original sheave wheel for expert assessment, it became apparent that it was not going to be feasible to restore it.

“Instead, with this welcome financial support from Historic England, we are going to be able to commission a replacement that will allow us to get the original working mechanism back up and running. Once the new wheel is in place, it will be far more visible than it was previously and will also include explanations of how the mechanism works.”

With preparatory work now largely finished, the physical restoration of the Leas Lift and ancillary buildings is set to begin this summer and will take around a year to complete.

Liz Pollard, Heritage at Risk Projects Officer at Historic England, said: “The Leas Lift is a unique and much-loved site, built in 1885 to transport people between the clifftop promenade and beach below. The replacement sheave wheel is integral to getting the lift operational again. We look forward to its installation so the public can once again use and experience this special mode of transport.”

The campaign to save the Grade II* listed Leas Lift – a nationally significant structure – began in 2018 when volunteers came together to save the lift and ensure its future. In November 2023, the Folkestone Leas Lift Company Charity secured £4.8m of support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, meaning the overall fundraising target of £6.6m had been reached.

For more information on the history of the Leas Lift and the campaign to reopen it, visit




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