Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Have A Go Hero Helped By Castle Stairlifts London

Business journalist Geoff Ho of the Sunday Express was one of the heroes who helped prevent more lives being lost when he was caught up in the London Bridge terror attacks.  

He is recovering in hospital after one of the trio of attackers stabbed him in the neck, but he wasn't going to let them get away with it as he used his martial arts on the terrorists to fend them off and stopped them from stabbing more people.

“The people who attacked me were not representative of Islam and my Muslim friends – with whom I stand in solidarity.”  
Geoff – seen covered in blood being led away by the emergency services – puts his survival and that of those he defended down to his martial arts expertise. 

Geoff was having a quiet drink and something to eat when the fanatics burst into the steak restaurant "The Black and Blue" in Borough Market.  People hid under tables or froze to the spot but he acted quickly to tackle them. Geoff has urged people to be strong in the face of these threats.

Using his years of counter attack training in kung fu and kickboxing, he fought them off with other diners, until the police arrived soon after.  He is unavailable to the media at the moment and wishes to have privacy for this family, but when he is out of hospital he will be available for comment by the press, and thanks well wishers for their support.

One of his true Muslim friends has set up a fundraising page on his behalf on gofundme which is one of the top trending campaigns currently.  Keith from Castle Comfort Stairlifts who is often in London on stairlift  business felt it to be an important cause and so has made a donation to the page which will go to the London Air Ambulance and the Red Cross.  You can also make a donation by clicking on his picture below.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Stair Lift Accidents Could Be Avoided

Recent news from a Berkshire coroners inquest showed us the case of an unfortunate death involving a stairlift, and highlights what lessons could be learned for consumer buyers of these products and also what could be incorporated into training for the user, by installation companies. 
Senior Coroner for Berkshire Peter Bedford said: “Despite Mrs Hall's years she appeared to be remarkably fit and active. She preferred to stand up on the stair lift. Clearly she has overbalanced while holding a cup of tea and was not able to block her fall. I offer my condolences to her family.
We don't know the details of how long the stairlift had been installed for, so it may well have been fit for purpose initially, but we all know elderly people who have medical conditions that worsen as they age, and maybe if a different type of lift had been installed more recently then we would not have had this loss of life.

A year from celebrating her centenary Mrs.Hall was fit and active, yet required her stair lift to help her on the stairs.  We cannot comment on the methods of the installation company that would have put the lift in, and whether the user would have been sufficiently trained to use the lift safely. We can only hope that this was the case, as it always is with all our installations.
According to the family she had got into the habit of standing on the stair lift, rather than sitting on it. The footplate of the seated chair is for the short step up and down onto or off the actual chair itself. It is not designed to be stood on for the entire journey of the stairs. Unfortunately the lady struck her head whilst standing, and fell on the stairs and was hospitalised. She died 8 days later from a brain injury. 
Maybe a better lift for this lady would have been a perch stairlift, also known as a sit /stand model.  As a stairlift supplier covering Berkshire we would have recommended the perch model for those that wanted to, or needed to remain standing on the stairs, whether through preference or a medical need.
Here's a picture of one below and as you can see they are ideal for those who find bending at the hips difficult, or who just prefer to stand on the staircase whilst travelling. 
The perch lifts are better for those who cannot bend as easily at the hips or the knees or who may have replacement joints, and are also ideal for a narrow stairs installation.
The lesson here for families considering buying a stairlift is to make sure that in an ongoing way that you are caring for your relative by looking out for changing needs with regard to their mobility.  It could have been that the family was unaware that such a thing as a perch lift exists.

Here's a close up view of a couple of perch and sit stand models.

If you feel concerned by any of the issues raised in this article feel free to contact us anytime, as we aim to give no obligation advice to everyone about stair lifts. If we can't help you then we usually know someone who can. Contact us today by calling 0800 007 5050 or visit the website.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Freddie Knoller Talks After His Stairlift Purchase

Freddie Knoller – One of Life's Optimists

His name may be familiar to world war two historians as well as keen One Show viewers, as Freddie, a recent stairlift customer, is an author of two books about his life during WWII, “Desperate Journey," and “Living with the Enemy” (pictured) You can click the book to visit his authors page at Amazon.
He has also been featured in a BBC film “Surviving the Holocaust” which documents his life during the occupation of mainland Europe by Nazi Germany. 

Born in Vienna, Austria his journey to escape anti-semitism was quite harrowing, and included his internment in a number of concentration camps including Belsen and Auschwitz. 

He hadn't thought to share his story until 35 years later, after prompts from his teenage daughters, and despite some of the worst moments in the camps when there was no food at all for many weeks, he credits his hope and faith for the future in helping him through. 

He continues to give educational presentations for the Holocaust Educational Trust, and still has a lively voice and keen sense of humour. Part of his talks include his colourful tales of his time working as a tour guide around the cabarets of Paris while under German occupation.

Here's a video of Freddie in action.

Freddie is now 95 years young and always thinking ahead, he has recently purchased a stairlift from Castle Comfort Stairlifts for his London home, though he is not at the stage of needing it just yet!

He has contemplated his future requirements, and we feel that for someone of his age, that is a very wise move. In conversation with Keith from Castle Stairlifts he is planning for the stairlift to be returned when it might not be needed in15 years time, when he will be 110! Who knows, at the rate he is going he could very well still be riding it every day even then. 

Here's a clip of their conversation below.

Now there may be many others reading this article in their nineties who served in the war or their spouse did, and they might now be thinking of planning for their own future, just like Freddie.

If you would like to set yourself up at home for when you can't walk up the stairs, then you may be able to claim a part-payment grant for the purchase of home mobility equipment such as a stairlift, if you are in financial need. You can fill in our enquiry form here to get a fuss-free quotation to think about, then you can know what to expect. 

We have worked with many different funding sources over the last 20 years, and for service men and their families we have found that SSAFA could be a charity that offers help for ex-service personnel. 
For more details you can visit their website at
or call us today on 0800 007 5050 to find out more.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Stairlift Information For The Wheelchair User

Do you know what wheelchair stairlifts are?

Maybe these mechanical devices are new to you, so to help you understand the definition of a stairlift for wheelchairs, it is the perfect invention for disabled people who are wheelchair users and who prefer to stay in their chair around the house, yet still continue to use the staircase and access all the other floors.

Installing a personal elevator or home lift is very convenient for people who are having a hard time climbing the stairs, but they can be very costly to install and also may need quite considerable building modifications in order to fit into the space, or there just may not be enough space to put a lift shaft. Also to consider, is if the building is listed or has various changes of levels and outdoor steps, such as in many churches or private care homes.

The majority of people that buy a regular stairlift or a chairlift, as they are also known, are usually older and disabled people and it is bought for residential use. While the wheelchair stair lift, which can be known as an incline platform lift, is most often retrofitted in blocks of apartments, commercial premises or listed or municipal buildings. 

It is often installed so that a hotel can comply with the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act 1995) to ensure that wheelchair users can still access all areas, and not have their rights and liberties overrun or be confined to just the ground floors. For new buildings, the Part M section of the Building Regulations pertains to what is required to meet accessibility needs, so will always have some kind of lift access built in.

The cost of a wheelchair stairlift can vary, but is usually cheaper than a glass or metal sided commercial lift. For installation, the lift track can be mounted onto a load bearing wall for support, or if this is not possible, such as in outdoor ecclesiastical installations, steel support posts can be drilled into the ground to carry the track.

Predominantly for straight runs of steps it is also possible for curved platform lifts to be installed, if there are corners on the staircase. A safety rail comes down over and around the occupants, and the lift will not move unless it is securely in place. They can also carry passengers standing as well as the wheelchair, for instance to allow for a carer to accompany the user into the building.

You've Parked Too Close!

I'm sure you have heard stories of car park rage where a non-disabled person has parked in an easy access space at the local supermarket and in doing so prevented a legitimate wheelchair user from getting their shopping. When that happens there's a risk of being hit by a car driver, as they have to wheel themselves far away from the store entrance, with the possibility of not being seen between the rows of parked cars. It doesn't bear thinking about.

We can't guarantee that a disabled space will be empty when you need one, but whenever and wherever you are parking, the last thing you need as a wheelchair user is for a car to park too close to you, effectively blocking access to the boot or side door, which you need for getting in and out with your chair.

Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles

Our friends at WAV-Compare which is a price comparison website for Wheelchair Adaptable Vehicles have produced some useful stickers (pictured) to help get the right message across. We've received a brand new batch and have some available in the showroom, so just call us or email us to get a free sticker that will give you more room, and help prompt other drivers to be considerate when parking near to your vehicle. These are also useful for customers of ours who might not have a wheel chair, but find getting our walkers and scooters out of their vehicle difficult if hampered by other road users parking too close.

We have a wide experience of the whole lifts marketplace for homes, commercial premises and even vehicle lifts to help you put your scooter or wheelchair into your car. Also if you need a lift for a care home, hotel or church then please get in touch and we can put you in contact with the best providers in the UK.
Please call 0800 007 6959 today.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Stairlifts or Stair Lifts - which is it ? Find out in Stoke on Trent

Shortly, you will discover how to obtain easily a Stairlift at a very reasonable price from this Stoke on Trent based company and installed quickly without fuss. But first, we promise that you will find this post very interesting - and your few minutes' involvment with it will earn £10 for the benefit of Cancer Research.
But if your priority is to first get the stair lift sorted - you should check out now this website -

Castle Comfort Stairlifts

and return here later. Or you can telephone Newcastle under Lyme (01782) 630999 for an instant quote and to arrange a free survey if required.

Another satisfied customer video, who we went to visit with Dr Stirling to check everything was as it should be.
Posted by Castle Comfort Centre on Saturday, 15 August 2015

You are looking for a Stairlift .. or a Stair Lift. It's the same isn't it? Well that small difference between the two versions - one word or two - has caused quite a controversy. We'll get back to chairlifts in a moment (or is it chair lifts?) but most of with the skill to use a search engine have curiosity and interest in our language - so we are going to clear it up.

Word spell checkers favour the two word Stair Lifts - but in general use most people favour the singular term Stairlift. So, you language purists out there - we need you opinion and reason which is correct. And then, we are going to approach, with all your comments, our two blog authorities - the Oxford Dictionary and Wikipedia. for a final decision. Doctor Stirling of Castle comfort - himself an authority and language enthusiast will select the best comments for submission. See the doctor's site here - and explore his indepth knowledge of Starelifts. Who stairs at stairlifts?? The polemic can go on, as sutch our language is never set in stone or beyond question. A definition lasting a century in the dictionary can be changed in seconds by an email .. for example.

Please use the coupon here. For each comment received on the subject we are going to acknowledge your trouble by chipping in £10 for a the very good cause already mentioned. You will see acknowledgement of the tenner you have generated here.
We'll then submit all facts and opinions to Wiki and the Oxford and see what they come up with. A conclusion will be posted on this site shortly with details of the total amount raised.
And if you stair lift (stair lift) hunters have now got the quiz bug - earn another £10 for Cancer Research here, by naming correctly Britain's second biggest airport.

OK - so back to the fact that we can provide you find a stairlift quote that is acceptable not just because of the amount - but because of the trust you can put into the Castle Comfort Group who have been providing mobility products, ie riser recliner chairs, adjustable beds and stairlifts nationwide for over 12 years.
First - Castle Comfort actually exists - what do we mean? Well, many so called stairlift companies on search engines are simply 'boiler room' enquiry generating engines who exist often from a laptop in a garage, or an Algave Villa to get enquiries or 'leads.' They then sell the enquiries to actual businesses for a fixed rate or a commission. Who pays that commission? You of course.
Castle Comfort Stairlifts not only have premises, showrooms, staff and two had working directors to deal with you personally - but they have LOW PRICES as well as excellent service. What they do not have is an expensive commission based direct sales force. See SPAM and you will see here why a stairlift could cost a fortune to the less savvy.

Castle Comfort Stairlifts do not have to, nor would they ever buy expensive leads from elsewhere because they are kept extremely busy with repeat work - and above all, a Free Page One entry on most major search engines which is achieved naturally through a long and genuine existence. Many firms if your look carefully at the top of page one on many search engines are 'sponsored links' -they pay a lot to be there. And as with any costs in business - it goes on the product cost to the buyer. To check further on our claims - why not look for the street address of the boiler room lead generators? If you find one it won't be obvious. And they certainly may not have what is pictured below.

So here is a little information on the actual product provided by Castle Comfort. Following this, we then list Castle's mobility products delivery routes and schedules to different areas. All staff at this company are trained to measure and survey for a stairlift, so even if they are delivering chairs or beds to your town - a measurement can be taken with a couple of minutes to enable an installation to be carried out at our home within a day or two.

Stair lifts are essential anyone with a mobility problems. They provide safey and independence.
Castle Comfort Stairlifts arguably has a greater understanding than anyone else in the UK with the exception of the actual manufacturers but with the added bonus of impartiality i.e. he has in depth knowledge of ALL the stairlifts products on the market and can help find the best stair lift for you, and suggest the best installation team in YOUR own local area.

There is a huge range of stairlifts, and they all have different control, options and weight limits to consider. However, there are only really 3 basic types: straight, curved and platform stairlifts for indoor or outdoor use. Heavy duty too - up to 30 stone. See our film made at NAIDEX, NEC Birmingham recently. And if you face the extra cost of a curved stairlift - there may well be an economic alterative... have a glance of how a Stoke City football fan saved a fortune - here.

0800 007 6959 - 8AM - 11PM

Or depending on where you live - these regional office numbers can also be called 8am - 11pm -

Wolverhampton (01902) 489422
York (01902) 820766
Newcastle upon Tyne 0191 644 0366
Bournemouth (01202) 355466
Belfast (02890) 538653
Birmingham 0121 371 0123
Bristol (01179) 059177
Glasgow 0141 278 3929
Liverpool 0151 676 2727
London 0207 717 9797
Macclesfield (01625) 886599
Manchester 0161 452 3636
Swansea (01792) 359212
Stoke on Trent (HEAD OFFICE) 01782 630999

HEAVY DUTY OR HEAVY WEIGHT STAIRLIFTS ARE ALSO AVAILIBLE WITH 28.5 OR 30 STONE WEIGHT LIMITS. A bariatric stair lift has a high weight capacity, including a curved stairlift with a higher weight of 30 stone. Henry V111 may have been impressed. David Starkey says here in the Daily Mail that the overweight king invented the stairlift.
See the contact page here, and click on your town city for the local phone number.

For even more information go here

And, see Castle Comfort's model on this super stairlift that
would also carry at the same time a few friends! Film on NOW.

North Staffordshire Run.
Stoke on Trent Newcastle under Lyme


Every Tues, Wed & Friday
South Staffordshire Run.
Stone, Stafford, Wolverhampton
& Walsall.
(Castle comfort ended up on the BBC when
they were recently Walsall. Watch the News here.) ………………………………………………

Every Monday, Thursday & FridaySouth Cheshire Run.
Congleton, Macclesfield, Prestbury and Stockport

Every Wednesday
The Manchester Run.
Includes northern Cheshire and most parts of Greater Manchester & Lancashire.
Covering Wigan, Blackburn, Burnley, Colne, Accrington & Oldham.

Every TuesdayThe Shropshire Run.
To the Welsh Borders as far south as Gizmoville.
Welsh spoken - Cymraeg ar lafar
Every Friday.
The Easten Run through Uttoxeter, Doveridge, Derby and the whole of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and
Lincolnshire and Bluebelltown.
Every other week (on an unspecified day)
Birmingham Run. As far as northern Home Counties.


South Wales
There is a daily and ongoing presence in the whole of South Wales offering full representative service to offer quoted for stairlifts and installation and technical back up by our SWANSEA facility. Telephone Swansea (01792) 359212 anytime for information, or use the coupon here.
As every, Castle Comfort directors Ann Keith or Dr Stirling are waiting to assist.


Laugh about it - it's the only way. See Castle Comfort's most visited website
How many doctors do you expect to find at number 1 on Google maps? Here's one

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Motor Neurone Disease - no respecter of persons

"The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius" - Oscar Wilde.

What is genius? -"An exceptional intellectual or creative power" (Oxford Dictionary). I suppose it is fair to say that most people are of average intelligence. Some may be described as 'bright' or 'clever' or even 'gifted'. Few of us would be acclaimed as a genius. Without doubt, Isaac Newton, Mozart or Einstein were geniuses.  Mozart began composing at the age of five. Studies have suggested that playing Mozart to babies could raise their IQ level. Genius is a hard phenomenon to define or to understand how it comes about. It is not really satisfactory to simply say that genius is defined by a set score in an IQ test. For the purpose of this introduction I will use the definition that a genius is a person who is not only extremely intelligent but one who breaks new ground or is innovative with new discoveries, inventions or works of art.

In any consideration of intelligence, even genius, the brain has to be central. Every part of being alive and functioning properly is dependent upon the brain, the control centre. The brain goes further than that and allows you have a memory, to think and to learn, store and analyze information and to be creative. The brain may well be a part of genius but when it is affected by disease the result can be devastating.

A genius of our time - Stephen Hawking CH CBE FRS FRSA

Shortly after the beginning of the Second World War, a couple met at a medical research institute. Both had studied at Oxford University, Frank Hawking studied Medicine and Isobel, Philosophy Politics and Economics. Isobel entered the University in the 1930s and was one of the first women to do so. Frank became a medical researcher with a speciality in tropical diseases and in the 1950s became head of parasitology at the National Institute for Medical Research and the family went to live in St. Albans. It would be reasonable to describe Frank and Isobel as clever - but not as geniuses. Following their marriage, the couple had lived in Highgate.   When Isobel became pregnant with her first child, they sought greater safety in Oxford, away from the danger of bombing in London. Stephen William Hawking was born in Oxford on January 8th. 1942. Those who knew the family considered them highly intelligent, albeit a little eccentric. They lived a frugal life in an untidy, badly maintained house and drove around in an old London Taxi. (Common to a number of very clever people I have known, such mundane tasks as cleaning, throwing away potato peelings and removing dead plants from the window sills never seems to occur to them!) Evidently, meals were often taken in silence during which they would all read a book. Frank's work often took him to Africa. During one such period Isobel took the family to Majorca for four months visiting Beryl, a friend of Isobel, who was married to the poet Robert Graves.

On their return Stephen attended Radlett School for a year and then entered St. Albans School from September 1952. Frank wanted his son to attend the prestigious Westminster School, but without a scholarship the fees could not be afforded. The thirteen year old Stephen missed the exam through illness and so he remained at St. Albans. In his early days, in spite of his nickname "Einstein", Stephen did not initially shine academically. He loved making things; fireworks, model planes and boats - not unusual for a young boy perhaps.

Quite remarkably he built a 'computer' capable of solving arithmetical problems, from clock parts, an old telephone switchboard and anything he could recycle,. Now that was hardly 'usual'.
In 1959, Stephen, at the young age of seventeen, won a scholarship to Oxford reading physics and chemistry. Perhaps a clue to his future abilities, he found the work "ridiculously easy". On gaining a First Class degree at Oxford, he went on to become a post graduate student at Trinity Hall Cambridge. His finals at Oxford resulted in a borderline position between the award of a First or Second Class degree and a First was essential to his research place at Cambridge. The matter had to be settled by a 'viva' or oral examination. It was said that the examiners "were intelligent enough to realise they were talking to someone far cleverer than most of themselves."

So, we have a picture of a probable genius who had the potential to be top of his field in cosmology and physics. However, a cruel blow was lurking under the surface - illness. It was in his latter days in Oxford that worrying symptoms began to show. He became clumsy, fell on the stairs and had physical problems with rowing, his primary sport. His speech became slurred, and, on a holiday at home one Christmas, his parents were alarmed to notice the indications of a problem and it was decided to seek medical investigations. The diagnosis was shattering - he had Motor Neurone Disease or ALS, an incurable neurological condition and was given just two and a half years to live. The nerves that controlled his muscles were shutting down. He was just twenty-one.

Such a diagnosis is always going to be shocking and horrific but for a young man with a brilliant brain, at the start of what promised to be an important and groundbreaking academic career, it was a tragedy of devastating proportions. His first reaction was to give up and he saw little point in continuing his studies and research. Happily, that was all to change - he fell in love. He met Jane Wilde, a languages student. They married in 1965. She was an inspiration to him and encouraged him to resume his career as if nothing was wrong. Hawking himself has said that in a odd way his illness helped him to become the distinguished scientist of today.

"I was bored with life before my illness, There had not seemed to be anything worth doing." 
Stephen Hawking

By 1969, he had to resort to the use of a wheelchair but the effects of the disease had started to slow down. Stephen went on to become an authority on space, time, black holes and the universe. However his condition returned and continued to deteriorate, putting his ability to continue to work at risk. His movement was becoming very limited and his speech more difficult to understand. In 1985 he underwent a tracheotomy, finally losing his ability to speak at all.  His plight caught the attention of a computer programmer in California. He developed a speaking programme, directed by movement of the eye or head. Stephen could now select words on the computer screen which were then reproduced by a speech synthesizer. While he still could use his fingers he was able to use a hand held clicker to make his selection. Today, at the age of seventy-two, most of his movement control has gone and yet he is able to communicate with the programme using a cheek muscle attached to a sensor. (Source: bio Stephen Hawking Biography)

We only tend to see the public image of the man but there must be many times of deep blackness. He appears to have an indomitable spirit and harbours an ambition to take a trip in space. ALS sufferer’s mental facilities remain intact. Stephen Hawking is fully aware and still academically brilliant. Yet what a cruelty that such a mind is trapped inside a failing frame.

Honours and Appointments - the stuff of genius
Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts
Lifetime member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (bestowed by The Pope)
Presidential Medal of Freedom - the highest civilian award in the United States
Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge 1979-2009

'A Brief History of Time' stayed on the British Sunday Times list of best-sellers for a record time of 237 weeks.

What are Motor Neurone Diseases?
We take for granted our ability to speak, breathe, swallow and walk. Messages or signals from cells in the brain (upper motor Neurones) are sent to the brain stem and spinal cord (lower motor Neurones) to particular muscles depending on the function. If these signals are disrupted, then muscle function is impaired resulting in weakening, wasting away, and twitching. Speech may become slurred or impossible and eventually swallowing and breathing may become very difficult. MNDs must rank as one of the worst and most frightening of illnesses.
Some basic facts about MNDs
The cause of sporadic (non-inherited) MND’s is unknown
Can affect both men and woman
Can affect any age group but commonly after age 40
Can affect children, if inherited can be present at birth or before the child learns to walk

Common MNDs
Spinal muscular atrophy
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
Progressive bulbar palsy
Primary lateral sclerosis
Progressive muscular atrophy

There is no cure or standard treatment.
Some drugs can help to alleviate the symptoms and promote palliative care. Life expectancy is variable across the range of different MNDs. Sufferers can be helped by a wide range of specialist mobility products. Stairlifts, bathing aids and electric recliner chairs can generate not only physical mobility but also greater confidence and comfort.

Other personalities to develop MND

David Niven - "The only real gentleman in Hollywood"

David Niven
Genius takes many forms and is not limited to the sciences. The arts also have their share of the highly gifted. Film goers will remember the wonderfully stylish performances of David Niven, one of the archetypal English gentlemen actors. What may not be so well known is the fact that he too developed motor Neurone disease. To give him his full title, James David Graham Niven was born 1st.March 1910. He was from an affluent background and attended the prestigious Stowe public school. His initial choice of career was to join the Army and after Stowe he undertook officer training at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. On being commissioned as a second lieutenant he joined the Highland Light Infantry.

By all accounts, Niven could be rebellious. He found the life of a soldier in peacetime rather a bore. He finally decided to resign after an incident of reckless reaction which upset a Major General - not a good career move! Niven had to attend a lecture given by the General, at the end of which Niven had a date booked with an attractive young lady. The lecture went on at length and time was running out. The lecture finally ended, the speaker invited questions:
"Could you tell me the time sir? I have to catch a train."

The result was that Niven was arrested for subordination and placed under close guard. Having shared a bottle of whisky with his guard (a future Colonel) he was allowed to escape via a first floor window. Clearly, the time had come to leave the army and he headed off to Hollywood.
With the outbreak of World War II, Niven returned to England and once again joined the Army. By the end of the war he held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

His style of leadership being influenced by his film background led to this briefing of his troops before an action which now seems to be so typical of Niven and no doubt built up his men's morale.
"Look you chaps you only have to do this once but I'll have to do it all over again in Hollywood with Errol Flynn."

David Niven went on to a build a highly successful film career. Amongst his many major films were 'Round the World in Eighty Days','Casino Royale' and 'The Guns of Navarone'.

The end of his career began in 1980. In common with Stephen Hawking, he became aware of muscle weakness and lack of control and his voice developed a slur. It is sad to reflect that when he appeared on the Michael Parkinson chat show, people were shocked to think that he was drunk. He secretly went into hospital and was diagnosed with Motor Neurone. With the blessing of his family, he refused to go into hospital. He declined very rapidly. David Niven died at his Swiss home in Chateau d'Oex on 29th July 1983 at the age of seventy-three.

Group Captain Leonard Cheshire VC OM DSO (Two Bars) DFC
Another victim of MND was the famed airman and founder of the Cheshire Disability Homes, Leonard Cheshire. (1917-1992)

"We need to set our sights high, to be satisfied with nothing less than the best, and to commit ourselves totally and unreservedly to participate in the struggle to build a more liveable world."-
Leonard Cheshire
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Leonard Cheshire joined up in the RAF. He was assigned to Bomber Command and was one of the youngest of the RAF's commanding officers. High amongst his achievements was an eight month posting leading No.617 Squadron -'The Dam Busters'. following in the footsteps of the first commander, Guy Gibson. In 1944 he was awarded the Victoria Cross.

He considered himself to be a very lucky man to have survived the war in the air and had a desire to do whatever he could to build a better world. 

Leonard Cheshire's lifetime efforts to help disabled people all began with a call from a hospital. Not a friend really, more an acquaintance, was dying and the hospital asked if the man could come and live with him. He agreed and so began what was to become a worldwide humanitarian charity. In 1959 Leonard married Sue Ryder and they set up home in Cavendish, a village in Suffolk. Sue and Leonard traveled widely on humanitarian missions. The charity running 'Cheshire Homes' continues to this day.

He was admitted to the Order of Merit in 1981 and was made a life peer in 1991, taking the title 'Baron Cheshire of Woodhall in the County of Lincolnshire in recognition of his time in the RAF.

How cruel was it that such selfless service in both the war and in humanitarian work at home and abroad, was cut short by motor Neurone disease? Leonard Cheshire died on July 31st. 1972. He was aged seventy-four.
For information about 'Leonard Cheshire Disability' see

Don Revie OBE - English Footballer (deep-lying centre forward - 'The Revie Plan')
Leicester City
Hull City
Manchester City (six caps for England)
Leeds United
Managed Leeds United (1961-1974)
Managed England (1974-1977)
Managed in the Middle East  including United Arab Emirates, Dubai and Egypt.

Donald George Revie was born in Middlesbrough, Yorkshire 10th July 1927. The young boy was brought up by his father, his mother having died of cancer in 1939. At that time Don was just twelve years old.

It seems that his passion for football developed early in his life. He began life too poor to own a football so he made a ball out of old rags and honed his early skills in the backyard. Don gained a place with his local team, 'Middlesbrough Swifts'. His first professional signing was for Leicester City in 1944.

Revie's career was not without controversy. His supposed style of 'unconventional' management incurred mush criticism. The England management claimed that his club level tactics were not appropriate for the national team. There was also friction with FA Chairman Sir Harold Thompson. Thompson, it seems, would not trust Revie's judgement and interfered with team selections and on a number of occasions publicly undermined his manager.

All came spectacularly to a head in 1977 when Revie, still under contract, resigned his England job. It was not only that he was the first manager to quit of his own choosing, but the FA were understandably incensed that Revie sold news of his decision to the Daily Mail before they, the FA, had received his letter of resignation. What was seen as being even worse, Revie had taken a highly lucrative job as coach to the United Arab Emirates with a contract of £340,000 for four years - a tidy sum in 1977, even seen against today's Premiere League salaries! Management and many supporters would not forgive or forget what they saw as self-interested disloyalty. The FA decided to take draconian  measures. Charged with bringing the game into disrepute, Revie was suspended from football for ten years. Revie contested the decision in the courts resulting in it being over turned. The FA were never to forgive this defeat and in the UK Revie's career was finished. But the final demise of Don Revie was not to be at the behest of the FA.

Revie retired to Kinloss in 1986 where he would have hopefully enjoyed some less turbulent days and focused on playing golf. But that 'happy ending' was not to be. He became aware that he was not hitting a golf ball with any accuracy. His wife had noticed an awkwardness in the manner in which he moved his left foot and his speech was showing the early stages of a problem. He was finding that he couldn't fasten the buttons on his shirt. The legendary footballer and manager had been struck down by Motor Neurone Disease. Typical of Revie, he announced the news publically in August 1987.

The fans at Elland Road took their old hero to their hearts and welcomed him onto the pitch as an honoured guest from where he waved to the crowd. He stayed to watch Leeds United beat Manchester City 2-0. That, for Revie, must have been an occasion of huge emotion. His last appearance at Elland Road  on 11th May 1988 was in a wheelchair. This occasion was a charity match to raise money for Motor Neurone Disease Research.

Don Revie died, aged sixty-one, in Murrayfield Hospital, Edinburgh on 26th May 1989. Even in death, from a dreadfully unforgiving illness, the FA, to their shame, were equally unforgiving. No representative of the FA attended the funeral. At the England v Scotland match at Hamden Park, on the day following the funeral, there was no minutes silence and no black arm bands.

Others from the world of football did pay their respects and farewells, including Jack Charlton, Billy Bremner, Alex Ferguson, Dennis Law, many referees and the Daily Mail columnist Jeff Powell. At a memorial service to give thanks for Revie's life, held in Leeds, the congregation was addressed by Paul Maddeley. Amongst the congregation were Trevor Cherry, David Harvey, Maurice Lindley, Terry Yorath, Paul Reaney, Joe Fagan, Gordon Taylor, Norman Hunter and Kevin Keegan. Revie's statue stands outside Elland Road.

Doug Brown
During what is referred to as the Colonial Period (19th century), after a history of instability and internal tribal power struggles, the Gold Coast became a British Protectorate - a British Crown Colony. During March 1957 The Gold Coast became the independent country of Ghana, Nkrumah remained as Prime Minister and Queen Elizabeth II remained monarch, represented by a governor general. The new status was not to remain in place for long. Following a referendum in 1960 Ghana was declared a Republic.

There is a long history of immigration into Britain from the former Gold Coast. In 1912. One Eugene Brown and his brother John came to England. On the outbreak of World War 1, both Eugene and John, signed up in the British Army and went off to fight in France. It was a fateful decision. John was killed and Eugene was badly injured, but initially survived. He came home after the war and Eugene married and had two sons, Doug and Roy. Tragically, Eugene died as a result of his injuries. The boys were brought up by their mother, a girl from Stoke-on-Trent. I think her name was Daisy.

At school, Roy Brown was a talented footballer and on leaving, at the age of fourteen, was signed up by Stoke City. The outbreak of the Second World War interrupted his career but he did in fact play a few games for Stoke in what was called the Football Regional League, making his debut in 1941. The
war was also to interrupt the Regional League which did not resume until the 1946-47 season. After the war, Roy resumed his playing career with Stoke City, scoring fourteen goals in seventy-four games. In 1953, Roy transferred to Watford, a club in Division Three (South).

During the war, his brother Doug trained as a physiotherapist and worked with wounded soldiers, helping them on the road to recovery. At the end of the war, he worked with the then newly formed National Health Service and many years later was the senior physiotherapist at Bucknall Hospital, in Stoke-on-Trent. Doug also had connections with Stoke City, his brother's old Club, not as a player but as a physiotherapist.

Doug did a great deal for the local area, including founding 'Lad and Dads' matches, 'Trubshaw Cross', on local school fields, normally closed at the week-ends. The idea spread across areas such as Bentilee, Biddulph, Leek, Stoke and Newcastle-under-Lyme. Doug's innovative scheme lead to the creation of the North Staffs Junior Youth League in 2003. Doug's work for football and youngsters was recognised on a number of levels. Two footballers, Garth Crooks and Robbie Earle, both with roots in Stoke-on-Trent incidentally, nominated Doug for the BBC Peoples Award.

Doug Brown had, without doubt, a social conscience and was dedicated to improving the lives of the less privileged, especially the young, in The Potteries. Standing as an independent candidate, he became a Stoke-on-Trent councillor but was later to join the Labour Party, the strongest group in a traditionally safe Labour seat. This was the time when football hooliganism, often with a background of pre-mediated 'fixtures' blighted the image of football, making it not such a 'beautiful game'. 

Doug Brown was elected Lord Mayor of Stoke in 1984. Doug was determined to tackle the hooligan issue.  His scheme was known as 'Match Mates' which aimed at bringing together rival groups in friendly, sporting rivalry to counteract the hooligan culture. His scheme was copied in many towns with some success. Doug's initiative was recognised in 1990 with an award from Diana Princess of Wales. The role of Lord Mayor was bestowed on him for a second time (1997-1998).

Doug Brown's political career was approaching its end. In the elections of May 2000, he lost his seat in Stoke. The circumstances seem rather odd, but from what I can find out he was deselected as candidate for his traditional Blurton Ward and fought for a seat in the less likely Trentham Ward which he failed to win.

Political failure was not the least of the challenges to affect Doug Brown in his later years. He was to face being diagnosed with a form of Motor Neurone Disease. He battled bravely, continuing as President of the local Chinese community and as Founder Chairman of 'Lads and Dads' football until his death at the age of eighty.  

Doug's tragic illness caught the attention of a local company specialising in aids to mobility such as stairlifts, electric beds and recliner chairs. Castle Comfort Centre of Wolstanton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, are well respected for innovative charitable work. Founder and Managing Director, Keith Simpson, launched a fund raising appeal for research into MND in the memory of Doug Brown. 

Over the years, Castle Comfort Centre have helped bring relief and some increased mobility by providing many sufferers with their specialist products. In August 2014, Keith's company recently went to the great lengths of donating and transporting a riser-recliner chair to a lady sufferer, not in Newcastle-under-Lyme or even Stoke-on-Trent. Juana 'Alita' Lemes lives in Lanzarote in the Canary Islands!

Follow the link to watch a video of how the story unfolded - it is heartening.
Motor Neurone Diseases are cruel, debilitating, life changing and, as yet, incurable. In common with cancer, they are no respecter of persons. Rich and famous, poor and unknown, it makes no distinctions. Thanks to the MNDA vital support is available and thanks to fundraisers and supporters, the search for a cure goes on.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Lifts, Home Lifts and Elevators

  Click here to find new and reconditioned home lifts throughout the UK

Lifts For The Home

"If you die in an elevator, be sure to push the Up button."
Sam Levenson 

Bottle kiln life
Image:Flickr-Lee J Haywood
Landscapes, both natural and man created, are in a constant state of evolution. The natural world is influenced by many factors. Physical agents of erosion and deposition; wind, water, ice and climatic factors, destroy and rebuild our coastlines, rivers, mountains and moorlands and soil erosion destroys millions of acres of potential agricultural land around the world. One definition of a National Park, such as the Peak District National Park located on the doorstep of Stoke-on-Trent or 'The Potteries' in North Staffordshire, is 'an area of outstanding natural beauty'. Beautiful certainly, but not totally natural. There is nothing natural about fields, marked off by hedges, grass kept trimmed by grazing animals, forests designed by and maintained by the Forestry Commission and reservoirs built by the water authorities cannot be said to be natural. A much better term is 'a man managed landscape'. Urban landscapes are in a constant state of change. Socio-economic factors, architects and planners all put their stamp on our villages, towns and cities. The proposed high speed rail route is causing much concern regarding the threat to the environment . The demise or creation of industry is a major factor. The skyline of Stoke-on-Trent was once dominated by bottle-shaped ovens, kilns to fire the products of 'The Potteries' and by the tall steel towers with their huge wheels operating the winding gear to take lifts, open cage structures, carrying miners to and from the coalface, deep below ground. Most of these traditional industries have gone, and, like the night sky which used to be lit up by the Shelton Bar iron and steel works these iconic, evocative structures have largely vanished from the local landscape.

 Lifts in Coal Mining 

Winding Towers
The Cage @ Easington Colliery
Image:Flickr-Dave Dawson
There is an interesting link between the two traditional industries in Stoke-on-Trent, namely pottery manufacturing and coal mining. Wolstanton colliery, opened in 1920 to exploit both seams of iron stone and coal which lay beneath them. The colliery was founded by a group of pottery manufacturers. Originally it had two shafts, the number 1 shaft being deepened in 1927 to a new depth of 635 yards. By the 1950s Wolstanton, along with Sneyd and Deep Pit was reaching the end of individual economical reserves and an ambitious scheme was undertaken to join them together. Wolstanton had the advantage of access to the main line rail routes between Stoke and Stafford and Crewe and Manchester. A new third shaft was sunk and number 2 was deepened to 1140 yards making Wolstanton the deepest pit in Europe. Mines presented a major engineering challenge. Apart from any other issues, miners had to be transported down to the coal face and the coal had to be brought to the surface. This demanded a safe lift system. The shafts were served by lifts. Towering over the shafts were towers, made from lattice steel work or concrete. Steam driven engines linked to cables lowered and raised the cage structures. Some lift cages were double decked and carried men and tubs. Most cages were not lit and the fast, windy descent into the darkness must have been an uncomfortable and unnerving experience, and, like everything in mining, hazardous. Disaster and death were no strangers to mining communities. The new towers at Wolstanton were concrete. Each one had powerful 3000hp steam driven engines built by Koepe, widely used in Germany and Holland. The same company installed lifts at Hem Heath and Florence pits in Stoke-on-Trent. The above picture was taken at the closure of Wolstanton Colliery in 1986. It had a proud record. In 1963, the pit was the first in the West Midlands to mine 1 million tons of coal in a calendar year. The local mines did not survive the miners' strike and other than the museum at Chatterly Whitfield, are long gone. As for Wolstanton Colliery today, the site hides its secrets below Wolstanton Retail Park, the location of Asda and Matalan amongst other retail outlets. Don't jump up and down or you may lose more than your shopping! Lifts are widely used in our daily routines, be it in multi storey shopping malls such as The Potteries Shopping Centre, or in tall commercial buildings, airports, hotels, hospitals, apartment blocks and so on. We have to use them, or be fit enough to use the stairs, even if some of us do find them a tad scary.

Lifts in Films

Lifts, or elevators, have gripping and sometimes amusing scenes in films. The fact that directors stage certain events in lifts is interesting and suggests to me that the lift has a perhaps dark place in our psyche. It is perhaps akin to flying, something we do, but feel that really, we ought not to do. To be enclosed in a metal box, suspended on a cable in a shaft is not a good idea. It is true to say that very few people speak in a lift and the almost eerie silence is only broken when a stop is reached and the doors open to free the tense passengers into a more comfortable environment. Lifts can be claustrophobic and like an aircraft most people are relieved to be out of them. It may be this that makes their use in films so potent. 'How Green is My Valley' by John Ford 1941 was set in South Wales and centres on groups of anxious relatives and friends waiting outside the colliery winding house for the lifts to bring up the survivors and the bodies of husbands and sons from a disaster far below ground.
Some other notable lift scenes.
'Terminator 2: Judgement Day' 1991 Arnold Schwarzenegger
'Silence of The Lambs' 1991 Anthony Hopkins
'Guns of Navarone' 1961 Gregory Peck
'Where Eagles Dare' (Cable Car fight) 1968 Richard Burton

 'The Lift' (Dutch) 1983 The chilling film featured a lift which killed people at random; all down to an experimental computer chip which malfunctioned and took on a malignant personality of its own.
'Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory' 1971 Gene Wilder
This lift was no ordinary lift! The glass 'Wonkavator' not only went up and down. Willy points out that his lift 'can go sideways, slantways, backways and frontways.' Young Charlie and Grandpa Joe enter the lift and push the big red button. The Wonkavator rises, going faster and faster until it smashes through the factory roof and soars high in the sky above the town. Don't think about it if you travel on the high speed lifts in the Shard - more about those later!

Who invented the lift? 
The answer to this question is debateable. One certain fact is that the concept of a lift goes back a very long way. A type of platform lift was certainly known in the ancient world and it is thought that Archimedes (Gk 287BCE-212BCE) may have influenced the idea of lifts. Everybody heard of Archimedes at school, but what a talented guy he was! Most of us are challenged by one major academic discipline. Archimedes was a mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor and, just for good measure, an astronomer. He designed the Archimedes Screw. This was a screw-shaped shaft enclosed in a tightly fitting cylinder used for lifting water from one level to a higher level, when irrigating farm land. He established what is known as the Archimedes Principle. This is a well known story but it has important practical implications. A king had ordered that a crown be made and had supplied the pure gold for the purpose. It was suspected that the goldsmith had substituted some of the gold for silver and evidence was demanded of such dishonesty. Archimedes was tasked with finding the truth. He pondered long on how to assess the volume of an irregular shape. Now comes the well-known part of the story. Whilst taking a bath he realised that the water was running over, having been displaced by the volume of his own body weight. This was the answer to the volume of the metals in the crown. Such was his excitement that he leapt out of the bath and ran down the roads of Athens naked, shouting out the familiar cry of "Eureka" - "I have found it". No schoolboy humour please! It is the Archimedes Principle that defines the tonnage of a ship - the volume is that of the water displaced.

Elevators in Ancient Rome
The Romans, whilst barbaric, were great inventors. They built long straight roads to allow the army to march across most of the Empire. Public baths and saunas, drainage systems, and central heating also were a part of Roman city life. They also used lifts or elevators. The Colosseum in Rome was the venue for 'sport'. Here gladiators fought to the death, Ben Hur style chariot racing and even elephants thrilled the crowds and just to add to the fun, early Christians were burned at the stake or ripped apart by lions. Romans flocked to the Colosseum like 'Stokies' descend on Britannia Stadium!

The colisseum
Lions, elephants, bears, gladiators and chariots and horses were kept in dungeon like areas beneath the floor level of the stadium. They had to be brought up efficiently and safely somehow. The Colosseum had lifts. They were mostly a flat platform structure, hauled up and down by slaves pulling on a system of ropes and pulleys. They could use a cage for the big cats, similar to those used for coal miners!

A lift fit for a King - Louis XV 'The Well-beloved' (1710-1774)
It is not only today that lifts are used to facilitate discrete clandestine amorous liaisons . Versailles, the seat of the French Monarchy, was equipped with a very special lift system and it was nothing to do with a Romanesque Mr Carson bringing the monarch's food from below stairs in Downton Abbey! In 1743, King Louis XV installed what was called 'The Flying Chair' in the Palace of Versailles. The flying chair was a small cabinet through which a rope hung - the occupant could pull the rope to either lower or raise the chair. The system depended on a number of counterweights and pulleys but it proved effective. Louis XV ordered the chair to be made by one of his favourite machinists Blaise-Henri Arnoult. The King could enter the chair from his balcony. The purpose of the lift, amazingly running outside of the building, was to afford privacy as well as climbing stairs in full view or courtiers when the King wished to visit the apartment of his mistress, the most famous being Madame de Pompadour. I assume that the weather would not deter the King's passion! Louis had married Marie Leszczynska, daughter of the deposed King of Poland. After her death, Louis showed little interest in the affairs of State. As in the case of Queen Victoria on the death of her beloved Albert, the people began to lose faith in the monarch and his neglect of his Royal duties played a significant part in the Revolution of 1789.

Otis v Tufts 
There is debate between who really developed the modern lift - Elisha Graves Otis or Otis Tufts? There was concern in the minds of many people over lift safety. In 1852, the American company of Otis and Son invented a safety device. It was a crude but effective idea. In the event of a cable break, a wooden frame, located at the top of the lift, snapped into place against the shaft wall and acted as a brake, avoiding a disastrous plunge to the bottom. The idea was treated with some scepticism. Otis took a dramatic solution to prove that the device worked. In 1824 at the New York World's Fair he rode on a platform hauled high in the air and instructed that the rope be cut. The platform moved just a few feet and the 'brake' mechanism worked and he returned to the ground unscathed. Otis went on to found Otis Brothers lift manufacturers. In 1874 they installed the first commercial lift in a department store in New York. By later designs, this was nothing too dramatic but the buildings five floors was just the start of later 'sky-scraper' construction in the USA. Electric lifts or elevators first appeared in the 1880s. It has to be noted that the company was not an immediate success and people still had reservations about lift safety. In 1859, Otis Tufts patented a new concept in lifts design. It was to revolutionise the industry. It used the first box style enclosed elevator car equipped with bench seats - no standing up then, even before the today's obsession with Health and Safety. Most importantly, his design incorporated a new safety feature, which, he hoped would reassure the public. He abandoned the rope and pulley in favour of a 'nut and thread' rail running the whole length of the lift shaft. The car was the 'nut' which ran along the giant metal screw. This was certainly going to be safer, but, it was not a practical solution. It proved to be highly expensive and therefore not suited to high buildings which were becoming the norm. The demand for elevators was here to stay and Otis Brothers finally became the leader in elevator building. Otis Brothers now called 'The Otis Elevator Company' are the largest company in the world building elevators, lifts and moving walkways. They operate in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Otis installations currently stand at 2.5million and the service contracts around the world are currently 1.8 million. It is not surprising that the company employ some 61,000 people with 53,000 outside of the USA. As for the game Otis v Tufts it is clear who won!

 Some iconic structures - a challenge for the lift engineers
The Eiffel Tower
Image:Flickr-Elliot Brown
The Eiffel Tower, standing on the Camps de Mars in Paris, is one of the best known of all landmarks. During 2010 it attracted a staggering 250 million visitors. The vast interlaced metal structure was engineered by Gustave Eiffel who also designed and built the internal structure for the Statue of Liberty in New York. The tower was built to form the entrance arch to the World' Fair of 1889. It stands 324 meters (1,063 feet) high including the communication mast perched on the top. The lifts presented unique problems. There was no one with the appropriate experience to fit lifts into the slanting tracks and angles of the tower. The lift design involved two companies. The east and west towers were placed in the hands of the Roux Combaluzier Lepape company who favoured hydraulic powered chains and rollers. It fell to Otis to design a system for the north and south towers using a car design with an improved hydraulic system. In 1897-1899 the west and east towers system by Five-Lille was replaced by a system employing cables and pulleys powered by huge water pistons. The original lift system was scrapped after 97 years service. By 1986, a new computer controlled system was installed. The trip to the top takes eight minutes and fifty seconds.

The Tower during the German occupation

With the occupation of France by Hitler's troops, the Eiffel Tower came into his sights as a prestigious, symbolic image of victory. The French were not going to give in easily. The lift cables were cut; if Hitler wanted to get to the top he would have to climb. Soldiers were to ascend the tower and fly a swastika from the top, ready for Hitler's arrival. It was too big and high gusts of wind blew it away. They had to climb again and put up a smaller flag. When Hitler made his grand entry into Paris and arrived at the Tower, he kept his feet firmly on the ground. Even the Fuhrer couldn't face the 1665 steps to the top! By 1944, the Allies were approaching Paris. In a fit of defiance, Hitler ordered General Dietrich von Choltitz, the Military Commander in Paris, to destroy the city and blow up the Eiffel Tower. Thankfully, the General disobeyed the order. Hitler had conquered France but he did not conquer the Eiffel Tower!

 'Oh I do like to be beside the seaside'
The early 19th century saw huge social and economic change. The Industrial Revolution brought mills and mines into the towns of the north and 'pot banks' into Stoke-on-Trent. The drudgery was relieved by the annual holiday or 'Wakes'. This meant a holiday, or more likely a day, by the sea, more often than not in the new resorts like Blackpool. I remember as a child my father making me and my two sisters stand in line on the promenade, after a donkey ride of course, facing into the bracing air for which Blackpool was renowned and being told "Take a deep breath, you are going home soon." "Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Fenton, Longton through the smoke." (From 'Burslem Wakes' by Brian Berrington) A Mayor of Blackpool had seen the Eiffel Tower and was determined to see a similar structure in his town. This perhaps rather pretentious, not to say ambitious desire to make Blackpool emulate Paris, came to unlikely fruition in 1891 with the erection of Blackpool Tower. Local businessmen set about raising what was then a huge amount of money and over a building period of three years and at a cost of £300,000, Blackpool had its tower, if not the Palace of Versailles, on a site perhaps not as splendid as the Camps de Mars. The area at the base of the tower gave the north the famous Tower Ballroom with its Wurlitzer organ. The radio ran a regular programme featuring the organ played by Reginald Dixon. The Tower was an immediate attraction. After the opening, 3,000 customers took the trip to the top. Tourists paid six pence entry charge and a further six pence to ride the lift. In 1956, the hydraulic lifts were removed and the winding gear replaced with an electric system. This system was again modernised in 1992. Following a major refurbishment in 1998, 'The Walk of Faith' was installed. This is a two inch thick glass floor at the top of the tower. Being one who hates heights and feels airsick on a deep pile carpet this is certainly not for me! Take a trip and see for yourself.

The Shard - London 
It seems that the desire to build higher and higher structures is with us for good. Architects and civil engineers have perfected techniques and materials to an unbelievable level, the like of which engineers like Gustave Eiffel could never have imagined possible. The 87 storey tower, built between 2009-2012 is currently the highest structure in the European Union and the second highest in the UK. The highest is the Emley Moor transmitting station. This concrete tower, near to Holm Moss, may be taller, but it is a very different proposition to an occupied building of such proportions. The Shard is 306m (1,004 feet) high. Of the 87 stories, 72 are habitable and include a hotel, office suites, exclusive apartments and a privately owned observation platform which opened to the public on 1st February 2013. The ride to the top will set you back £25. The tower is accessed by 36 elevators, 10 escalators and 13 double-decked escalators. The ultra high speed, Kone elevators travel at a mind blowing rate. Watch the floor numbers as you ascend to get a feel of just how fast the lifts are.

Safety of high buildings
Tall buildings are vulnerable. In areas affected by earthquakes, tornados and tsunamis, the ensuing destruction is all too common. Technical problems can also cause disruption.

From The INDEPENDENT High anxiety: More than 200 visitors stranded 800ft up The Shard after lift stops working The unlucky visitors were left stuck on the 68th floor for more than an hour after a fire alarm was "accidentally activated” A spokeswoman for The View From The Shard told the Evening Standard: “A fire alarm was accidentally activated, resulting in the lifts being temporarily grounded. The safety of all our visitors is our greatest priority, so the activation was investigated immediately and the lifts were operational again within an hour, however this did cause some delays. Guests who were unable to wait were offered the chance to return again on another date free of charge. We apologise for any inconvenience.” Not all disasters are natural. The horror of the 9/11 attack on the Wold Trade Centre may bring into question the building of structures such as The Shard. Lessons have been learned from the attack with regard to safety in construction. The structure can maintain stability under extreme conditions and has a sway tolerance of 400 millimetres or 16 inches.

Lifts on a smaller scale - in the home

The elderly and those suffering from lack of mobility may well experience difficulties. There are a wide range of living aids or mobility products available. Riser chairs, electric adjustable beds, mobility scooters and of course a stair lift can greatly improve mobility and therefore quality of life. A friend who is a stroke victim, living in Newcastle-under-Lyme, had to be confined to the ground floor with a make-shift bedroom until he consulted a local lift company. The advice was excellent and he soon had a lift installed, with guaranteed local after sale service. His life has changed. As he put it "I have got my house back".

I have taken a look at mines, high towers and skyscrapers and the huge complicated lift systems that developed to serve the need to transport people and goods from one level to another. As always, technology leads to new developments and applications of basic systems to other situations. The domestic lift made available in one's own home is just one further exciting development. There is no requirement for major structural alterations and cables and pulleys. Home lifts are self-supporting, quiet, and, importantly in your home, stylish. Whether it is transporting you from the sitting room to bed at night, or carrying appliances such as the vacuum cleaner or baskets of washing to the airing cupboard, a home lift will make life very much easier and safer. When mobility issues or heart and breathing problems come along, a home lift is a possible solution.

Some questions and answers about lifts

I have a fear of being trapped in a lift, can that happen? No. In the event of a power failure, the battery takes over and transports the lift back to the ground floor. Most manufacturers guarantee a thirty minute fire integrity.

Is the lift enclosed in a shaft or tube? No. The lift is not enclosed in any type of shaft and are self-supporting.

Could I fall off? No. The lift has clear doors and it cannot operate unless the door is closed and will not open when the lift is in motion.

How is the lift controlled? The lift is called and operated by a wall mounted wireless link.

How many people can use the lift at any one time? The lift will usually carry two people up to a safe working weight of 250kgs

Is installation a major disruption? No. Once the best location and feasibility study has been carried out, installation will usually take just two working days and the lift is ready for use.

I use a wheel chair. Would that present a problem? No. Most residential lifts can accommodate a wheel chair.  Examples of such are found here.

Are they expensive? They are not cheap, but check with your local supplier for attractive deals.

At the end of the day, lifts great and small, bear testimony to the old adage: 'What goes up must come down. ' You can thank Isaac Newton for that!