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Folkestone's Leas Lift and Ramsgate's Clock House added to Heritage England's Heritage at Risk Register

A rare and historic cliff-side lift has been identified as a 'site at risk' by Historic England.

The Leas Lift, which connects Folkestone town with the beach, was forced to shut almost three years ago due to an unsafe brake.

Folkestone's Leas Lift needs major repair work. Picture: Historic England
Folkestone's Leas Lift needs major repair work. Picture: Historic England

The re-opening of the revered Grade II listed lift has since been delayed due to unexpected high costs, and in the meantime it has fallen into further disrepair.

But now, the landmark has been added to Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register, which could help safeguard it for the future.

Folkestone Leas Lift Community Interest Company (CIC), a trust which campaigns for the future operation of the site, has welcomed the move.

A spokesman said: "The Register shows a dynamic picture of the sites most at risk and most in need of safeguarding for the future.

"It encourages people to become actively involved in looking after what is precious to them.

"The Folkestone Leas Lift Company CIC view it as positive that this important historic building in Folkestone merits this classification."

The view from the top of the Leas Lift out to sea. Picture: Historic England
The view from the top of the Leas Lift out to sea. Picture: Historic England

The Leas Lift, built in 1885, is a very rare cliff funicular railway.

It is one of only three remaining water-balanced lifts in the UK but closed in January 2017 due to safety issues with the braking system.

Since then, the buildings, tracks and machinery have degraded further.

The trust are planning to bring it back into use, and hope to secure a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to pay for the maintenance.

If successful, the lift will re-open by 2023.

Cathy Beare, chair of the CIC, added: "We are working to raise the finance needed and secure the future of the Leas Lift, and believe this will benefit such an important part of Folkestone’s history in the long term.

"We look forward to the day when we can apply to have the Leas Lift removed from the register once its future is secured."

KMTV reported on the closure of the lift two years ago

As well as the Leas Lift, Historic England have also added the Clock House in Ramsgate to the Register.

The iconic Grade II listed building occupies a prominent position within Ramsgate’s Royal Harbour and was built in 1817.

Sited on the unique Ramsgate Meridian Line, it was originally designed to tell ‘Ramsgate time’.

Prior to the coming of the railways, everywhere had its own local time and Ramsgate had its own particular Mean Time which was calculated at 5 minutes 41 seconds ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

The Line, which was only ever depicted inside the Clock House building, was made from brass, however it was stolen in the 1970s.

But it has been added to the list due to its declining condition, notably fallen masonry on the seaward side.

It currently houses the Martime Museum and is owned by Thanet District Council, who want to see it repaired and brought back into sustainable use.

Ramsgate's Clock house. Picture: Historic England
Ramsgate's Clock house. Picture: Historic England

Emily Gee, from Historic England, said: "Our heritage needs to be saved and investing in heritage pays.

"It helps to transform the places where we live and work and in which we visit, creating successful and distinctive places for us and for future generations to enjoy.

“Historic England’s experience shows that with the right partners, imaginative thinking and robust business planning, we can be confident in finding creative solutions for these complex sites.”

Historic England revealed that two other Kent sites previously at risk have now been 'saved' due to funding.

The Church of St Mary in Lenham, near Maidstone, needed repairs to its roof, guttering, walls and windows, which were completed following a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund Places of Worship scheme.

The Holy Trinity Church in Queenborough, Isle of Sheppy, has also seen repairs made to its guttering, drains and roof.

Read more: All the latest news from Folkestone

Read more: All the latest news from Thanet

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