The Folkestone Leas Lift Company (CIC)

A new Community Interest Company is being established with the brief to pursue the future funding and operation of Folkestone’s iconic Leas Lift. The Lift has been closed during 2017 following the withdrawal of the previous operating company, but it is hoped that it will re-open again as soon as possible, supported by longer term plans that will sustain it well into the future.

The new group has secured £80,000 that will help meet the initial costs of conducting an engineering survey including a secondary braking system, required by the Health and Safety Executive. Agreement has been reached in principle with the owners of the lift, the Radnor Estate, to take over control of the site on a long peppercorn lease. The Radnor Estate has provided significant sums towards maintenance and upkeep over recent years and has made the major contribution to the new organisation. Further significant funding has been provided by The Roger De Haan Charitable Trust.

As an initial measure, consultants have been appointed to assess the steps that need to be taken to bring the lift back into use and to help prepare a business plan that can be used to support a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund. The new entity will assume responsibility for this process and in the medium term will work to re-establish the lift as a valuable heritage asset and as a viable means of travelling between the Leas and the Lower Leas, providing access to the Coastal Park, seafront and harbor. In time, this might include exploring ways to establish a new lift alongside the existing track, which is Grade 2* listed.

The group resolved this initial statement, ”We would like to thank the team that ran the lift in recent years and we are pleased that both they and representatives of the recently-formed Friends of the Leas Lift are happy to offer their support as we move forward. It is clear that there is a strong desire to see the lift re-open and continue well into the future, our job will be to ensure that the sums add up and that we don’t just arrive at a short-term solution that will take us forward to the next crisis. There are significant challenges ahead in upgrading and renewing the structure and its equipment that need to be addressed over the longer term.”

The new organization is applying for registration as a Community Interest Company titled The Folkestone Leas Lift Company (CIC). Directors of the new organisation, Cathy Beare, Peter Cheney, Zaw Htut, Alec Keeler, Emma Liddiard, Philip Gearing and Peter Walsh met with Philip Clapham and Trevor Minter in attendance. Between them they bring a range of required skills and experience, including engineering, marketing, fundraising and finance.