Folkestone’s Leas Lift has achieved its fundraising target, thanks to a £4.8m contribution from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The capital means the overall goal of £6.6 million for its restoration has been met.
Construction is now scheduled to commence in 2024, with the reopening expected in 2025.
The Leas Lift, located in Folkestone, Kent, is one of the last remaining water-balanced lifts in the UK. It holds Grade II* Listed status and had been at risk before the fundraising effort.
It is one of only three of its kind remaining in the UK still operated by its original water and gravity-based system. It faced a period of closure due to safety concerns in 2016, eventually being added to Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register in 2018.
The initiative to save the heritage asset began in 2018 with the collaboration of volunteers dedicated to preserving the lift’s historical significance, and the restoration campaign gained momentum when planning permission was granted for a new café adjacent to the lift.
The restoration project aims to bring the lift back into operation, offering a range of activities for the local community and providing step-free access from the seafront to the town.
Cathy Beare, Chair of the Folkestone Leas Lift Company Charity, said: “We are thrilled to have secured support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, which unlocks further funding and allows us to work towards re-opening in 2025. We can’t wait to welcome passengers back 140 years after it was first installed.”