Paternoster lift

A paternoster is basically a vertical escalator with cabin for transporting passenger from one floor to another floor like elevator.


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Paternoster lift
Paternoster lift

What is paternoster, how it work?

A Paternoster elevator is a unique type of continuously moving elevator that doesn't have traditional doors or buttons for each floor. It operates as a loop of interconnected open compartments that continuously cycle up and down in a vertical shaft. Paternoster elevators are known for their peculiar design and operation.


Once popular for being able to handle lots of passengers, The concept of the Paternoster elevator dates back to the late 19th century. It was patented by Peter Ellis in 1861 and later improved upon by J.E. Hall and the engineering firm of George and Robert Smith. The word "Paternoster" is derived from the Latin phrase "Pater Noster," which means "Our Father," referencing the way the compartments loop around the shaft like rosary beads in prayer.

Working Principle:-

The Paternoster elevator operates on a simple principle. It consists of a continuously moving chain of open compartments that are guided by a vertical shaft, looping from the bottom to the top and back down again. Here's how it works:

1. Continuous Loop:-

The elevator comprises a chain of compartments or "cabinets" that are attached to an overhead rail or chain. These compartments move continuously in a loop.

2. No Stops:-

There are no traditional doors or buttons for each floor. Instead, the compartments have open entrances, and passengers can step on or off at any floor while the elevator is passing by.

3. Timing and Coordination:-

The timing and coordination of the compartments are critical. The compartments move at a slow, constant speed, and they are evenly spaced along the loop. Passengers must time their entry and exit carefully.

4. Safety Mechanisms:-

To ensure safety, there are typically safety features such as pressure-sensitive floors in the compartments and emergency stop buttons. If someone accidentally trips or falls while entering or exiting, the elevator stops temporarily.

Advantages of paternoster lift:-

  • Efficient use of space as there is no need for elevator shaft doors.

  • Able to handle lots of passengers overall.

  • Continuous operation means minimal waiting time.

  • Less energy consumption compared to traditional elevators.

  • Need less maintenance as compare to modern day elevator

Disadvantages of paternoster lift:-

  • Safety concerns due to open compartments and timing requirements.

  • Limited passenger car space.

  • Paternoster elevators are not suitable for all buildings and are considered obsolete in many areas due to safety concerns.

It's important to note that due to the potential safety issues and outdated design, many countries have phased out or banned the use of Paternoster elevators. Modern buildings typically use traditional elevators with doors, buttons, and advanced safety features to transport passengers more safely and efficiently.