West Hill Lift wheel replacement delayed due to ‘unsafe’ conditions

An operation to re-install a huge winding wheel at the West Hill lift had to be delayed this morning due to high winds in the wake of Storm Ciara.

Monday, 10th February 2020, 10:20 am
Updated Monday, 10th February 2020, 4:51 pm
West Hill Lift Wheel SUS-201002-094101001

A large crane was in position on the hill earlier this morning with the wheel, which weighs two tonnes, due to arrive by trailer.

But the crane operator made a decision not to go ahead. He explained: “It would be unsafe to go ahead with this wind, If the wheel started to spin it could destroy the lift-house. The weight of the wheel is not the problem. It is the sheer size of it.”

Kevin Boorman, from Hastings Borough Council, said: “The problem is that the wheel has to be lowered through a narrow gap. It is a very precise operation.”

Mr Boorman said the date would be re-scheduled and added that he was still confident the lift would be open and operational by Easter.

The 127-year-old funicular railway, connecting George Street to the top of the West Hill, has been closed since last July due to a mechanical fault.

Kevin Boorman explained: The winding wheel was taken to a specialist foundry in Rotherham for the work to be carried out. However, a detailed magnetic particle/dye penetration inspection carried out on the wheel at the foundry – which couldn’t be undertaken on-site – showed serious cracks around the central hub. Our specialist engineer was concerned that if the cracks were repaired, other weaknesses might develop. Their recommendation was to replace the wheel, which we accepted.