September 17, 2021 3:37 am

The History of Passenger Lifts

Passenger lifts are suitable for residential homes, care homes, office blocks, shopping centres, hotels and other buildings with high levels of lift traffic. They are designed to offer top-quality performance under high-intensity use.


Lifts have been around for centuries. It is believed that Egyptians probably used them, but the first real evidence can be found in Passenger Lifts Greek and Roman times. It was through the Greeks that the first principles of lifts were put in place. The Romans then later developed these principles and used primitive lifts in their own building work, utilising humans, animals or water to power the lift. Records show that the coliseum had hydraulic lifts fitted to lift slaves, lions, etc into the central arena.

In the seventeenth century the concept of using a counter weight was put in place, and this was the forerunner to most lifts in operation today. Later in that same century the world’s first recorded passenger lift was put in place in the Palace of Versailles, for King Louis XV.

Lift technology was further improved in the early 1800’s and by 1830 passenger lifts were common throughout Europe, especially in factories. However, safety was an issue as it was too easy for the lift to fall down its shaft. So in 1852 the world’s first safety brakes for passenger lifts was invented.

The first department store to install a passenger lift was Harrods, and since then, their use has grown phenomenally to the point where it would be odd, and now illegal, for a shopping centre or large store to not contain a lift if passengers are expected to traverse between floors. Passenger lifts used to be able to carry one or two people, and also used to be manned by an assistant who would help people traverse between the floors. The progression of technology means that these days a series of buttons on a control panel are now how we guide our way between the floors of buildings.


Lifts have revolutionised the way we live our lives and how we conceive our cities. Our 21st century dream of vertical living, of towers and sky-scrapers, has only become a reality because of the invention of passenger lifts. Lifts are now common place in blocks of flats, in businesses and in places of leisure and they have become a permanent fixture in our lives. Disabled access is a legal requirement, and lifts make this possible.

As skyscrapers begin to push closer and closer to the sky, lifts need to be made faster and larger and higher-reaching than ever before. And as cites’ populations grow so to does the need for space. There is only so much ground space available, but passenger lifts makes upwards expansion possible. Now we can build giant office complexes, large blocks of flats and huge shopping malls. It means we can keep more and more inside the city, without having to spread it out, but by spreading upwards instead.

Without passenger lifts there would be no giant shopping malls or massive blocks of flats. Rent in city centres would be far higher as there would be far less space, and large areas of green space around cities would have to be demolished to make space for building. All in all, passenger lifts have made a massive difference to the way we plan our cities and how we live today.


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