The West Hill lift in Hastings has had to close because of emergency engineering works.
A building behind a trackside wall had started to collapse, and could have fallen onto one of the lift cars, the council says.
Council spokesman Kevin Boorman said: “We are very disappointed that we have had to close the West Hill lift.
“An old building to the east of a retaining wall at the bottom station had started to collapse, we think as a result of snow and frost damage caused by the two ‘beasts from the east’ earlier this month.
“Cracks had appeared in the building, and when our contractors started work to provide support, the roof started to move.
“The building forms part of the wall beside the track, and our engineers advised us that there was a very real danger it could collapse.
“If it did, it could take out a large part of the trackside wall and fall onto the tracks, potentially bringing tons of rubble and debris onto our 127-year-old lift.
“Safety is obviously paramount, so we had no option other than to close the West Hill lift immediately. Our contractors have now installed scaffolding to enable demolition experts to remove the building, and part of the wall, to make it safe.
“It is very disappointing that the lift will have to be closed over Easter, but our contractors are working extended hours and weekends to keep the period of closure as short as possible.”