Dramatic pictures of Hastings East Hill Lift carriages being hoisted out

How do you remove carriages from the steepest cliff railway in the UK? That was the problem engineers had to overcome this week.

Rock-a-Nore Road was closed on Monday night as a giant crane hoisted the lift carriages out. Hastings Borough Council Marketing and Major Projects Manager Kevin Boorman was there to capture these dramatic pictures of the airborne carriages on a wet and windy night.

The East Hill lift carriages and chassis are being taken to Rotherham for maintenance whilst the trackwork on the East Hill lift is also being refurbished.

Kevin said: “The West Hill carriages have also recently been removed for maintenance work, and are now being returned, it is believed to be the first time ever that both sets of carriages have been removed at the same time, in the history of the lifts.”

The line was opened in August 1902 by Hastings Borough Council. It was originally operated on the water balance principle, and the twin towers of the upper station contained water tanks for this purpose. The line was modernised between 1973 and 1976, during which time it was converted to electric operation and new cars were provided.

The line was shut in June 2007 because of an incident where a fault in a control panel caused the cars to fail to stop at the correct point, resulting in damage to both cars and stations. In 2008, Hastings Borough Council decided on a major refurbishment involving new cars and new control and safety systems, together with repairs to the damaged stations. The line reopened in March 2010.

Following the closure of lines in Broadstairs and Margate, the East Hill Cliff Railway is now the steepest funicular railway in the United Kingdom.