paternoster elevator system : LUSENET : Elevator Problem Discussion : One Thread

Hi, I am a postgard architecture student from NUS, Singapore who is currently doing a design project in Macau. I would like to find out more about an outdated system: Paternoster Elevator System (specifications, dimensions, etc).

This system is not used in Asia and apparently phased out in parts of Europe, so I have difficulty obtaining information on it, even via the internet, so would appreciate any help provided even if the information is outdated as it is for academic purposes.


-- J.Y. Pang (, December 02, 2003


Hey JY As you probably allready know they were elevator cabs with no doors that were hooked together with chains and went around in a loop with one side to go up and the other to go down, no doors. I will try and find you some info in my old elevator book library. I worked a few years ago in Singapore on ship elevators. A few times out in the bay and a few times in the shipyards. Why are you studying them in school, I am very curious. I remember it was 1000 dollar fine for having chewing gum. Jim

-- Jim (, December 02, 2003.

Hi Jim, I am right now doing my final year project and I was thinking of using and adapting the paternoster system to transport cages vertically (for display purposes) instead of pple. But apparently this system has never been used in Asia, so I had difficulty looking up info on it.

Would really appreciate your help, thanks!

-- J.Y. Pang (, December 06, 2003.

Hi guys I have worked on paternosters in the past, they were a great concept however they required high Maintenance. The guys I worked with were mustard with them but I was a mere novis. Try OTIS for some info they are normally helpful with Uni people. It's a shame it's not across the board Good luck......

-- mole (, December 06, 2003.

I emailed OTIS ! But they fwded my email to OTIS Singapore, who said they couldn't help, cos they don't have such a system (which of course I already knew). In fact I emailed 8 elevator companies I found on the web. But nobody replied to me except OTIS.

Sob sob!

-- J.Y. Pang (, December 07, 2003.

I will see if I can contact some of the old boys to get some info for you. Otis UK may still be your best bet, thats who we worked for! But the yanks had loads a one time, surly somome there has something?

-- mole (, December 10, 2003.

These paternoster-elevators where typical in Germany, England and Scandinavia. A huge amount of them still runs in Hamburg/Germany. The capacity is usually 2 persons per car, some had only a capacity of 1 person/car. Speed is about 0,25 m/s. The maintenance is much easier than for regular elevators because paternosters do not really have a control. I colud give you lots of information and lots of photographs. The erection of new paternosters is forbidden since 1972. Most of them where built from the 1920ies to the 1960ies.

-- Jan (, December 27, 2003.

we still have them in the u.k, not for passengers anymore but i know of two in my city used for delivering mail from a mail room in the basement up through the building. as for specs there wasnt any , most were installed pre-regulation days. try otis uk. they could help.

-- paul lacey (, December 30, 2003.

There is at least 1 fully funcational paternoster in the UK which takes passengers. In fact I used it this lunchtime!

It is used in the Attenborough tower building in the University of Leicester, UK.


-- David (, February 27, 2004.

Try the US publication"Elevator World" they are a mine of information and seem very helpfull in research

-- Mike Ward (, March 10, 2004.

You could also check to see if there is still one at Birmingham University in England in the Muirhead Tower, that was for passenger use, also.

-- Kadija George (, July 10, 2004.

The university of Birmingham, England still has, and in use, paternosters in it's main library, there are also others on the campus.

-- simon shepherd (, August 03, 2004.

There was one in Engineering Building, Oxford, England in the '70's. Each cab could carry two people. At each floor was a safety treshold on the building floor so that if you stuck a limb out that would strike the floor from underneath ( possibly chop off limb) then the threshold hinged up and shut off the power. When on topmost floors with a large queque to go down the trick was to take the upward moving cab . This disappeared into the machine room , stayed upright and moved sideways to go down the other shaft.

-- David Michael Parker (, October 07, 2004.

There is a working, passenger-carrying paternoster in Birmingham (England's) University Dental School and Hospital. It seemed in excellent condition when I was there today- I'd never seen one before. Truly a marvel of engineering!

-- Neil Archibald (, November 11, 2004.

There's one in operation in the Fletcher Building, De Montfort University, Leicester... I used it several times today... :)

-- DMU Student (, November 25, 2004.

There are several Paternoster's in Copenhagen, Denmark. In Christiansborg castle (the building of the danish government, Folketinget) and in the building of copenhagen power company (KE). Paternosters may be quite dangerous for the user.

-- M. S. (, November 30, 2004.

Glad to find this thread. I'm doing some writing which involves a paternoster, based on my imperfect memories of one I took in Prague ten years ago (I was amazed!). Does anyone know if any were ever installed in the US? Did paternosters ever have interior lights (not sure how electricity would hook up to the moving cars.) How many cars would a typical paternoster have? E.g. twice as many as there were floors in the building? What's a typical speed? How long to get from one floor to the next? Aside from falling, what other dangers do they pose, given the safety thresholds? Thanks for any help!

-- Margaret Press (, January 29, 2005.

The Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, UK (not the one in London) designed by Daniel Libeskind uses vertical paternosters for displaying objects. From memory, I think they have two.

-- Paul Weston (, January 31, 2005.

HI: I was just reminescing about some of my after war (WWII) experiences in Germany. I was stationed in Frankfurt, Germany in 1949. My duty (Air Force) was as a teletype and crypto tech. I worked in the I.G. Farben Building there which at the time was the HICOG (High Commissioner of Germany) Headquarters. Our duty station was on the 7th floor. They had those paternoster elevators in full swing and I understand there are still some of them in operation there. That building is now a University of some kind I believe. You can see more info on this subject ... just go to Google and type in "I.G. Farben Building". Those elevators were lots of fun to us young GI's and more than a few got hurt horsing around in them. I remember that one unfortunate fellow got his leg almost severed messing around in those things. You might write to the I.G.Farben building Maintenance Department. Perhaps they can give you some information. To me those elevators were nothing more than big "dumb waiters". But, I guess they were part of history. Good luck on your search. Ed

-- Ed (, March 03, 2005.

I used the paternoster at Crawley College in Sussex in the seventies, we used to go over the top and bottom. Despite modern 'Nanny state' concerns they are quite safe, although It was stripped out and replaced with a conventional lift while I was there. The reason was that one of the arms holding the cars onto the chain had cracked and broken off on a similar lift elsewhere, causing a car to fall & crash into another one. The mechanical engineering department at the college had the actual broken part at one time. All similar lifts were examined and found to be potentially at risk so were scrapped. I would like to know if there are any working paternosters for use by the public in england. Here are some links to some sites you might find useful. See my comments on the discussion page of the first site

-- graham (, March 10, 2005.

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