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Object in Focus: Hydraulic Lift

October 28, 2013

The hydraulic lift at Cragside was added sometime between 1870 and 1880. It worked from the basement area known as the Jigger Room, up to the second floor. This was a total journey of around 9 metres.

I think it’s interesting to note that the lift was not for the family to use, it was installed to make the servants work easier. It meant they could take visitors luggage, coal and hot water to the upper floors without having to carry these heavy items up many flights of stairs.

The lift was suspended by a chain in a shaft. The lift was moved by the action of the ‘jigger’ which consisted of a moveable ram working in a fixed cylinder. Both the ram and the cylinder have sets of pulleys at their ends.

When water was let into the jigger from a reservoir able the House, the pressure forced the ram out and moved the chain over the system of pulleys. This raised the lift. When water was let out of the cylinder the lift was lowered. The jigger magnified the limited movements of the ram, which only needed to move 1.5 metres to take the lift right to the second floor.

The hydraulic lift was replaced by an electric lift in the 1950s, which is still in use today, enabling wheelchair users to access the first floor.

the 1950s "box"

the 1950s “box”

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