Funicular to stay closed until next summer despite costly planned refurb

The East Hill Lift will not open again until next summer at the earliest despite a costly planned programme of repairs.

This means the popular Old Town attraction, which connects The Stade and the East Hill, will have sat lifeless for two years - missing out on cash from thousands of tourists.

The 105-year-old cliff-side funicular railway, which is the steepest in England, was shut in June 2007 after crashing dramatically following a fault in its control panel.

The bottom station was damaged after one of the twin cars failed to stop. The other car was left needing costly repairs after hitting the station at the top of the cliff and both stations were left damaged.

By the time it eventually reopens next year, the only people to have used the historial cliff railway in two years will have been the family of four who survived the crash.

Initial reports from the Council said the lift would only be closed for several weeks but the decision was taken to bring forward a planned refurbishment and the attraction has been shut ever since.

This week however, Hastings Borough Council has released details of the work it wants to do in order to bring the lift up to scratch at a cost of more than 260,000.

According to a council spokesman the existing fibreglass carriages will be replaced with wooden ones with space for wheelchairs, pushchairs and bikes.

The control and safety systems, which failed so dramatically last year, will also be replaced and the concrete trackbed repaired.

The top and bottom stations will also be repaired and repainted.

If this work proves to be a success the Council will consider a second phase of work, which could include a new cafe and a cliff-top seating area.

The council spokesman said: "The whole scheme is at an early stage and requires detailed design as well as various planning permissions.

"It is hoped that all of the works in the first phase will be complete by early Summer 2009."

An exhibition of the plans for the lift is being held in the Fishermen's Museum in Rock-a-Nore Road on Saturday August 9 and Sunday August 10.