Country houses for sale

A £20,000 bargain? This crumbling Art Deco lift on the Kent coast is seeking a brave buyer with a head for heights

The abandoned lift by the sea at Ramsgate has been through its ups and downs since the late 1920s.

On the seafront in Ramsgate — between the Westcliff Promenade and the Royal Harbour approach and descending to Military Road — stands a unique, crumbling and yet oddly beautiful Art Deco structure that, in another life, spent its days as a lift, known as the Western Undercliff Lift.

This ‘interesting piece of freehold estate’ — as it’s described by Clive Emson, the auctioneers overseeing the sale — has a guide price of £20,000 on the lift shaft and engine house, complete with original machinery, both of which haven’t been used (as the photos suggest) for decades.

It’s thought that the Grade II-listed lift was built circa 1926 by Sir John Burnet and Partners, and the central shaft of coloured glass panels ranging from a deep midnight blue through to a sky blue and finally icy white, is typical of the Art Deco era in which is was built.

The main question, of course, is what would anyone do with it?

In its heyday the lift could hold up to 20 passengers — a far cry from the dilapidated state is now finds itself in. It’s so dilapidated, in fact, that potential bidders can only view the structure externally.

It’s a complete first for the property section of Country Life, and a far cry from our usual thatched cottages with charming country gardens, but the unique building certainly makes a statement, and it’s fascinating to consider what sort of elevator pitch is needed to give this plot the facelift it so desperately needs.

There are no permissions in place, as reflected by the low reserve — but with the right new owner, the right financial backing and a good architect, there must surely be all sorts of wonderful things that could be done with this intriguing landmark.

Any new buyer would have to persuade the relevant authorities of the value of allowing changes to bring the lift back to life, but we’d hope (and, frankly, expect) that they’d be desperate to see this genuine curio put to use once more.

The Western Undercliff Lift is due to go up for auction via Clive Emson at a guide price of £20,000 — see more pictures, or enquire with the agent for further details.