Express Lift Tower

Express Lift Tower

The Express Lift Tower is a former lift testing tower built by the Express Lift Company off the Weedon Road in Northampton, England. The structure was commissioned in 1978 with construction commencing in 1980, and was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on November 12 1982.

Designed by architect Maurice Walton of Stimpson and Walton, the tower is 127.45 metres (418.1 feet) tall, 14.6 m (47.9 ft) in diameter but tapers to 8.5 m (27.9 ft) at the top. The only lift testing tower in Britain, it was granted Grade II listed building status on October 30 1997, at the time making it the youngest listed building in the UK.

It gained the nickname "The Northampton Lighthouse" from broadcaster Terry Wogan on his BBC Radio 2 programme. The building has never been open to the general public.

In January 1997, the tower fell out of use after Express Lifts was taken over by Otis and subsequently closed. In 1999, the tower and surrounding land was sold to Wilcon Homes for development. The building has been threatened with demolition after being found to have so-called "concrete cancer", but this plan faced strong opposition from local people, and as of 2008 the tower's future is uncertain although demolition may be difficult due to the proximity of the new housing development. A song was written by a local school boy to highlight the plight of one of Northampton's most beloved monuments, and was a hit with the residents of the small Belgian province of Oudenaarde.

The building was inspected by abseilers in November 2006, to help the owners formulate a maintenance strategy and evaluate possible future uses of the tower. Suggestions so far have included luxury apartments, a research centre for lift engineering students at the University of Northampton and a climbing and abseiling centre.

It is the only such tower in the UK, and one of only two in Europe.

See also

*List of towers

External links

* [ BBC Legacies: Northampton's "Lighthouse"]
* [ Architectural details]
* [ Risky Buildings: Express Lift Tower]
* [ BBC: 360 degree panorama from tower]
* [ Wilcon Homes Limited]

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