Library lift becomes unlikely social media sensation

  • Date

    Wed 29 Mar 23

One of the last remaining paternosters in the country has become a hit sensation on social media, with videos featuring the lift amassing millions of views.

The historic machine in the Albert Sloman Library continues to be an unlikely attraction for students, graduates, staff and visitors to the University of Essex’s Colchester Campus, and has even been used as the backdrop for a wedding photoshoot.

Made up of 14 open compartments that move in a loop up and down without stopping, the lift underwent a major renovation in 2020/21 having originally been installed by J&E Hall Ltd of Dartford in 1967.

Its revival has coincided with its unlikely rise to stardom, with videos featuring the lift posted on the University’s Tik Tok account amassing more than four million views.

The videos have also been liked by hundreds of thousands of users.

Commenting on the lift’s viral status, Johnathan White, Director of Library and Cultural Services and University Librarian, said: “Our paternoster lift is one of only three left in service in the UK.

“As well as it keeping our students and staff moving through the Library building, it has become an attraction in its own right, with visitors stopping by to see the lift in action, take a ride and get a photograph.

“To see videos of the lift go viral on Tik Tok is fantastic and shows how genuinely intrigued and fascinated people from across the world are by it.

“In fact, it is so popular that one of our alumni from the 1980s, who has enjoyed a career as a top Hollywood special effects producer, took great delight in telling us of her memories of using the lift during her time at Essex.”

The lift also caught the eye of the family of founding Vice-Chancellor Sir Albert Sloman when they made a special visit to Essex last week.

It had been out of action for several years before the renovation in 2020, which saw new drive gears and chains installed, along with new lighting and a traffic lights system to improve safety.

Mr White added: “Since the lift opened in 1967, generations of students and academics have ridden it to find the books they need and get to the study space of their choice.

“It is now being used on a daily basis by a new generation of students and we are proud that this unique part of our university will be used by students for generations to come.”