Hastings West Hill Lift wheel to be dropped into place by crane this week

A delicate operation to drop a giant wheel into place at the West Hill Lift is scheduled to take place on Thursday morning.

Monday, 16th March 2020, 12:56 pm
West Hill Lift Wheel SUS-200316-121019001

A previous attempt on February 10 had to be aborted due to a high wind which was still gusting after Storm Ciara.

The specialist crane team, whose job it is to lower the two tonne wheel into place, ruled that it would have been unsafe.

Kevin Boorman, from Hastings Borough Council, said, at the time: “The problem is that the wheel has to be lowered through a narrow gap. It is a very precise operation.”

The 127-year-old funicular railway, connecting George Street to the top of the West Hill, has been closed since last July due to a mechanical fault.

Kevin explained: “The winding wheel was taken to a specialist 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 – showed serious cracks around the central hub. Our specialist engineer was concerned that if the cracks were repaired, other weaknesses might develop. Their recommendation was to replace the wheel, which we accepted.

“We are now hoping that our contractor will be able to lift the drive wheel back into place at 8am this Thursday March 19.

“Extensive testing will be required before the lift opens again to the public, which is expected to be before Easter, but the return of the main drive wheel represents an important step towards the reopening of this much-loved example of Victorian engineering.”