Evolifts were approached by ambitious homeowners Mark and Pat Rand to assist with a most interesting project: the restoration and conversion of a water tower into a new home at Settle, in the Yorkshire Dales.
Built in 1876, this water tower served the steam trains that travelled along the 72 mile World famous Settle to Carlisle line. Its function was to store water at a sufficient height, and in sufficient volume, to enable locomotives to fill their tenders quickly. The tower is so large, in fact, that it had the capacity to hold 43,000 gallons of water and could serve eight large steam trains without needing to be refilled!
Settle Water Tower is the only remaining tower on the line. It’s a listed building and of such historical and architectural interest that the restoration project was filmed by Channel 4 for their Restoration Man series featuring George Clarke.
Whilst there were no planning or pressing personal requirements to install a lift, Mr & Mrs Rand felt strongly that it should be considered as an integral part of the conversion because it gave them confidence that Settle Water Tower would meet their needs both now and in the future. Further, because the room layout was designed ‘upside down’, with main living space upstairs, no visitor to the building would be able to appreciate the impressive 360 degree views without climbing two flights of stairs.
However, as with any unusual or listed structure, there were challenges for the project team to overcome in fitting such a lift. Originally, the plan was to use an external lift but this proposal was not accepted in planning. Further, when considering the interior space available, a significant constraint was the available gap between cast iron beams which measured less than four feet – too small for a conventional lift.
Mr Rand jumped online to research options and realised that a platform lift could be the ideal solution. After talking to a number of potential suppliers, he selected Evolifts, who, although many miles away, not only offered the perfect product in terms of size specifications but also proved to be the most competitive on price.
Evolifts supplied and installed an Best Value Home Lift to serve Settle Tower’s three floors: lower, middle (main living room area) and roof-top room. Designed exclusively for domestic use, this lift has a smaller footprint to take up less space than a conventional commercial lift but is engineered to the same high precision standards with fast, quiet travel and all emergency features. It is also remarkably flexible in its configuration to enable customisation with travel up to 13 metres, entrance and exit options on three sides and a range of aesthetic finishes available.
Mr Rand chose standard RAL 9003 white powder coated panels to complement their interior choices and was pleased with the result. “There was a concern, prior to installation, that the addition of a lift could be a real visual intrusion but we need not have worried,” he said. “It stands clear of the floating staircase and does not detract from it which was important to us.”
During installation, there was discussion about how the lift was going to be supported within the tower as there was quite a distance between the mid-floor level and the roof-top room on top of the tower. Building work is generally not required for a platform lift as they are self-supporting structures; however the guide masts do need to be fixed to the building structure and the project team were keen not to interfere with the staircase at all. Three steel supports were fabricated and inserted - a quick and easy solution to balance aesthetics and safety.
Following the commissioning of the lift, Mr Rand said: “I had never had to consider the purchase of a lift before and I found Evolifts exceedingly helpful to deal with. I would recommend them anytime. Balancing budget and aesthetics were really important in this project and to our delight we were able to do so well. It is the ultimate example of old meeting new happily.
He continued: “My Grandsons have been particularly thrilled at the prospect of having a lift in our new home and have been asking about it ever since building work commenced. Their delight on its installation was wonderful to see – they always want to be up and down pressing the buttons! And my wife and I are already finding it very useful too. It was the final piece of a gigantic jigsaw and even I have to say, it is magnificent!”
Steve Coak, Managing Director of Evo Platform Lifts, said: “Precision was required every step of the way on this project in order to install a lift in a building that was never designed to house one! This project has been one of the most challenging, interesting and rewarding that I have been involved in. I’m so pleased that Mr and Mrs Rand are happy with the end result, and, that, in some small way, we’ve helped to ensure that the Settle Water Tower is fit for future generations.”