What is now known as the ‘National Lift Tower’, was previously called the ‘Express Lift Tower’ and known locally as the ‘Northampton Lighthouse’. Construction began in 1980, and was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on the 12th of November 1982. Designed by architect Maurice Walton of Stimpson Walton Bond, the tower is 127.5 metres (418 ft) tall, 14.6 m (48 ft) in diameter at the base and tapers to 8.5 m (28 ft) at the top.
The only lift-testing tower in Britain, and one of only two in Europe, it was granted Grade II listed building status on 30 October 1997, making it the youngest listed building in the UK at the time.
From the time it was built, one shaft was specifically used by the British Standards Institution for type testing of lift safety components. Safety gear testing involved putting the lift cars into free fall with rated mass at tripping speeds, to ensure the lift cars decelerated and stopped within the requirements of the standard. Buffer testing was also performed, which involved impacting them with the maximum and minimum masses at tripping speeds to ensure deceleration was within standard. The aim was to ensure if the lifts went into uncontrolled free fall the safety components stopped the lift.
The building since being taken under private ownership has been renamed; The National Lift Towe, has an undergone extensive renovations and repairs. The tower was re-opened for business in 2009.
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