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The Cliff Railway as it was called in 1904
How it looks today, I had previously stated that it was no longer in service - but I am happy to announce that it reopened July 31st 2010 at 10:00 a.m.  This information came to me from Eamonn Rooney, who tells me that he and two colleagues have taken possession of it from the Folkestone Estate, and will be operating it as a 'Not for Profit' company.  Hooray - I say!!
Here is a novel picture of the water lifts that used to run between the Lower Sandgate Road and The Leas.  (Wait for this page to fully load, and you will see it working!)
I found this photo on the Shepway district Council website, where they had the history of these lifts, however, I can no longer find it there.
This is what was known as the Metropole Lifts or West Lifts.  It was built for the convenience of the patrons of the Metropole and Grand Hotels.

All of Folkestone's cliff lifts were operated by water.
The top end of the same lift taken just three years after it was built in 1907
This is the lower end of the Sandgate Lift which ran down from the Leas.

This one wasn't in operation very long.  Just from 1893 to 1918.

I wasn't sure at first that this photo was indeed the Sandgate lift, as pictures of it are quite rare, but both Alan Taylor, and now Eamonn Rooney have confirmed that this is the real McCoy.
The Sandgate lift again, taken from above.
So is this one from 1903, but is taken rather far away.
As is this one from 1906
Back to the lifts at the East end, showing adults and children on the Lower Sandgate Road.
How the lifts looked when both tracks were in operation.

Isn't that an interesting wall on the bottom right of the picture?  It has metal scrollwork sitting atop the stone.
It's about time we saw the other end of the East End Lifts.  This is how they looked in 1923.
This one was sent to me by a fellow named Ross.  Judging by the car, I would guess it to be either 50's or 60's.  The lift on the right was working still, so it couldn't have been after 1966.
Oh my older sister had to wear a hat like that when she went to the County Grammar School!  She hated it, and called it a 'Poe hat' :-)

This photo is a lot older than those days though, so these girls probably had to wear them even when they were not in school!
Back over to the Metropole Lifts again.  What a shame that this one is no longer there.
I don't have a date for this one, but it was of an age where they had buses.  This bus had 'Lyons' written on it.
These East lifts have definitely had more photos taken of them than either of the others, but that is probably because they have been in operation a lot longer.

I have seen quite a few photos showing that they planted trees between the two sets of tracks, but imagine they would have had to pull them out when they grew to any size.
Back to the West Lifts.  The path  going past the entrance is Madeira Walk.

This one is dated 1915, the year my mother was born.
Moving up to the 1970's, Folkestone had a paddling pool for the children just across the street from the Lifts.  Now also long gone sadly.

I didn't get home at all during the 70's, so didn't get to see it.
And back over to the West lift again with a couple taking a stroll along Madeira Walk in 1911.
Actor Robert Morley, who spent part of his childhood in Folkestone said in his autobiography 'A Musing Morley', "What gave Folkestone, and in a sense myself, character, were the cliff-hangers, the lifts.  I travelled in them on an average at least once a week, always my heart was in my mouth.  It is this sense of danger that makes life sweet.  I am numbed by the blasÚness of astronauts, those laconic voices revealing their boredom.  Even  their names appear to me subnormal - Pete, Greg.  My sister, who is called Margaret, and I, who was christened Adolf, used to scream loudly just before take-off.  Count-down was signalled by closing the sliding doors, and then there would be the terrifying surge of water.  We would look up at the seagulls circling far, far overhead, at the tiny figures in the car which was about to crash down on our heads, and scream.  Of course, it never really hit us.  We used to pass the car halfway.  Sometimes it would be quite full, whereas our lift would contain only my sister, myself and our governess.  I always wondered whether they adjusted the weight of the water, how it was that we rose and they sank without unseemly haste, while the balance was so unequal.  At the top, splash-down was always carried out without a hitch.  The car was accurately positioned to enable us to step out of it and hurry home to tea."
I added this one because I have never seen these buildings  in the foreground before.  Does anyone know what they were?

They couldn't have been changing huts, because they had no doors on them.
Same paddling pool, different angle.
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Just heard from Alan Taylor about this one.    The reason this particular lift closed was because it couldn't compete with the motor charabancs which started running from Sandgate to Folkestone.

Thanks Alan! :-)
Alan also told me that the building on the left was a tea chalet, and the strange one on the right was a shelter.
Page Updated July 31st, 2010
I would guess this photo to be early 60's, and under a magnifying glass, I think it has the price of 4d on that sign at the top.
Back to 1910 again, and you can see that vendor trundling his barrow to his pitch. I put a magnifying glass to this one too, but still couldn't make out what he was selling.
If you have your own memories of Folkestone, be sure to share them with us by jotting them down in the book below.
Just had an e-mail from Ann & Stan Finney who reckon the man is selling ice cream.

Which started all these questions in my mind:
1.  How was it served?  Had they invented cornets or wafers by then?  Or was it served in little dishes with spoons?
2.  Did they have different flavours?  How did it taste?
3.  Was the cart just a big box with ice & salt inside, and the ice cream lasted as long as the ice did?  Refrigerated carts hadn't been invented yet had they?

I just did a search and came up with the following:

The commercial harvesting of ice in cold climates and its transport to population centres was a growth area from the early nineteenth century. This ice trade made large volumes of ice available at a realistic price and it became possible for ice cream sellers to offer a taste of ice cream to the ordinary person. Ice was sold on glasses which were wiped clean and re-used. These glass "licks" remained in use in London until they were made illegal in 1926 for reasons of public health. Ice cream edible cones were first documented by Mrs Agnes Marshall in her book Fancy Ices of 1894.
This photo is 16 yrs older than 1926,  so the question is, was he selling ice licks? (shudder)
I first thought this was the Metropole Lift from the bottom when Mike Vernol first sent me this photo.

However, I now believe it to be the lifts at the East end, before they added the second railway.

Compare the offices with the photo below, it is identical except the building on the right hasn't yet been added.

What a find!  Thanks Mike!
You see so many photos of the Cliff Lifts from the bottom, so I couldn't resist buying this card which shows how it looked from the top.

Down below you can see Marine Parade and the Bathing Establishment.  In the bottom right corner, you can see lines and lines of what are probably towels drying in the sun.

What a job it must have been in those days, no washing machines or dryers.
The fastest way to get from the top of the Leas to the Lower Sandgate Road and back again has always been via the cliff lifts.  However, these days, there is only one left, at the east end of the Leas, closed for a while due to lack of funding, it has now been taken over by three gentlemen, who are currently running it as a 'Not for Profit' arrangement.

There are only a few of these lifts left in operation in the country, whereas at one time, Folkestone alone had four of them.
It is operated by water.  One car at the top is filled with water underneath until the combined weight of the passengers and water is greater than the one below, it then descends, causing the one below to be pulled up.  There are many websites explaining the mechanics of it better than I can.  Just do a search.

The lift above was built in 1885, and the lift on the right was closed in 1966.   The other two  sadly are long gone.  The Metropole lifts at the West end of the Leas was in operation from 1904 until the last war, when it was used by the troops, and unfortunately was damaged too badly by 1940 to repair, so had to be dismantled.  The other one I have a couple of pictures of began even further west on the Leas in 1893, and ran down into Sandgate until 1918.

So Folkestone's last funicular lift has been given a reprieve, but I urge residents and visitors alike to use it as much as possible, because it is one thing to run it at no profit, but it still cannot be run at a loss.
This was dated 1907, and gives a better view of that wall.  You can also see a street vendor of some kind right opposite the entrance to the lifts.
Here is a photo of the East lifts from the beach, showing the usual assortment of grossly overdressed people getting some sun on the few pieces of exposed skin.  I bet there wasn't a lot of skin cancer back in those days!  Just above the beach, you can see a long roof, possibly a restaurant or something with a tea garden outside?
One more of the East Lifts.  Don't you love the man in the straw boater?  Perfect for the seaside! :-)  This photo is courtesy Bryn Clinch, who tells me that it was written and sent by his Great Uncle Phil Toms, who sent it to his sister and brother-in-law, who were Bryn's Great Grandparents.  His Great Uncle Phil had a removal business in Folkestone.