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Information and updates on the paternoster

March 2020 (before the pandemic hit)

After removing the old cogs and chain, ​Liftec started clearing the site last week. They cleared the shaft and machine room of the mechanical equipment. If required, any further cleaning will be carried out this week, with hopefully minimal disruption to us.

Paternoster cogs being towed away

(Paternoster cogs being removed from the site)

Other works to update the lift cars and equipment are being carried out off-site for the time being, but electrical works are programmed to commence within the library from the 23-24 March.

February Progress Report (27/02/20)

If you’ve been in the Albert Sloman Library recently, you’ve probably seen the bright new displays in front of the paternoster openings on each floor. You may have also heard the sounds of heavy objects being moved around, but what is happening on the other side of the barriers? If it all seems a little mysterious, read on to find out what is going on behind the scenes!
First, a quick catch-up of what’s happened so far:

  • 2018: The lift has been out of action since summer 2018, but the work of organising resources and expertise to get it working again started right away.
  • December 2019: The initial phase of work began with ILECS, a specialist lift consultant, managing the project. ILECS are one of the few companies who’ve previously worked on paternosters. For this complex project, they are working with a variety of specialist engineers –from specialist chain manufactures to steam engine engineers– to make and cut the drive wheels. Before work could begin, new barriers were put up in the central landing on every floor to allow the cars and machinery to be removed.


  • January 2020: The process of removing the cars (all 14 of them) from the shaft began.
  • February 2020: Scaffolding was erected in the shaft in preparation for the removal of the heavy machinery (chains and gears).
  • End of February 2020: The old cogs and chain were removed. The chain was manufactured in Italy, and is the same equipment used on roller coasters!

Paternoster cogsPaternoster chain



Out with the old, in with the new!

Once all the old parts are removed, restoration work can start. These works include:

  • Completely replacing the lifts drive gears and chain
  • Replacing the main control system with a modern high efficiency system
  • Installing a new vari-speed drive system, so the lift can easily be slowed down.
  • Updating all of the lift cars
  • Upgrading the lighting in the lift shaft
  • New safety features, like a traffic light system to help you get onto the lift

If it sounds like a lot of work, that’s because it is! The paternoster lift was originally built over fifty years ago, and since then it’s only been updated twice (in 1975 and 1995), so there’s a lot that needs to be done to ensure it will continue working for years to come. That being said, we’re pleased to report that the restored lift is on track to reopen next autumn!
We’re delighted that the paternoster will soon be open and accessible for visitors to the Albert Sloman Library, and we’re looking forward to seeing it in action again.

Work being carried out this week (beginning 17/02/20)

Scaffolding has now been erected in the paternoster shaft, and the mechanical lift equipment (chains and gears) will be dismantled and removed over the next couple of weeks.

We don't anticipate much disruption, but will keep you posted!


Work being carried out this week (beginning 10/02/20)

All of the cars have now been removed, and the new graphics installed on the hoardings.

Over the weekend (15-16 Feb), there will be some noisy works taking place whilst scaffolding is erected in the shaft in preparation for the heavy machinery (chains and gears) being removed next week.

We apologise for any disruption caused whilst this work is taking place. You may wish to avoid the landings as a place for study during this time, and sit at the end of the floors instead. Alternatively, you may want to study in the Student Centre whilst these works take place.

Work being carried out this week (beginning 03/02/20)

This week, we'll be continuing to remove the cars from the paternoster shaft with the aim of having them all out by Friday.

We are also still in the process of installing the new graphics with information on the project on the hoardings, and expect this work to be completed at the beginning of the week.

Work being carried out this week (20/01/2020)

This week, we'll be continuing the process of removing the cars (all 14 of them) from the shaft. As the cars are bigger and heavier than initially anticipated, there will be some disruption whilst they are moved from the hoarding out of the building. We will try to keep this to a minimum, and at less busy times of day, likely to be the first half of the mornings.

Paternoster car being removed

New graphics explaining what is happening will be installed on the hoardings at the end of next week (30-31 January).

Hoardings are being installed

Workers are on the scene installing new hoardings around the paternoster landing. New barriers will be put up in the central landing on every floor (G-5), but they won't obstruct access to the main lift or stairs. Take a look at the Alternative access routes page for more information on how to navigate the building whilst works are taking place.Paternoster work is started 

09.12.19: Work begins

The initial phase of work begins this week on Thursday 12 and Friday 13 December.

This will involve replacing the existing hoardings with new larger ones to enable work to take place in the paternoster shaft.