Straight Stairlifts – Eight Surprising Facts

If you think you know everything there is to know about straight stairlifts and curved stairlifts – think again! Domestic stairlifts have had a long history; and in that time they have graced the homes of the rich and famous, played a starring role in TV shows, and pets don’t miss out either as there’s even a state-of-the-art stairlift for pampered pooches.

Here Ransome Mobility, who have 30 years’ experience in providing mobility aids to people in Suffolk, East Anglia, and throughout the UK, has come up with ten surprising facts about domestic lifts and stairlifts.


Lifts Have Been in Use Since Ancient Times – Contrary to popular belief, lifts are not a relatively new(ish) invention; they have been in operation since ancient times. The Romans used a basic form of lift, which was a wooden platform with a pulley system operated by slaves, to transport people, animals or heavy objects up and down. There were a number of lifts installed at the Colosseum in Rome which were used to transport dangerous animals at the time.


Henry VIII Was the Inventor of the First Ever Stairlift – The invention of the domestic stairlift can be attributed to Henry VIII (above). Among the many items listed in an inventory of the monarch’s possessions was ‘a chair…that goeth up and down’. The chair, operated by servants, was designed to help the King up and down a 20ft staircase after he was injured in a jousting accident.

The Palace of Versailles Had a Stairlift – In the 18th century King Louis XV had a platform lift at Versailles. Described as a ‘flying chair’, it was fairly basic and worked in a similar way to the Roman lifts. It was operated manually by palace workers and was used to transport the monarch from his first floor apartment to his mistress’ apartment on the second floor.

The Modern Day Stairlift Came About in the 1920’s – C.C. Crispen, a Pennsylvania business tycoon and engineer, invented the modern day stairlift in the 1920s, which he called the ‘Inclinator’. It was designed to help his friend, who had a disability, get up and downstairs in his two-storey home. The following decade it was produced for the domestic market and caught on because of the rise in the polio outbreaks at the time.

Stairlifts Have Appeared in Several Films – The first time a stairlift appeared in a film was in Witness for the Prosecution in 1957, when it was filmed in use at the home of one of the characters – a lawyer with mobility issues. A stairlift also appeared in the 1985 film, ‘The Gremlins’ and in the Disney animation ‘Up’ in 2009, which was used by the much-loved elderly character called Carl Fredricksen.

….And in TV Shows Too…..The Channel 4 Paul O’Grady chat show featured a stairlift, which transported guests down the stairs and onto the main set.  A stairlift also featured in the American sitcom Two and a Half Men. It was installed by Aston Kulcher’s character to help make life easier for the character Alan, who was recovering from a heart attack.

There’s also a Musical featuring a Stairlift – Acorn Antiques The Musical! staged by the Burton Amateur Theatre Group in Staffordshire also featured a stairlift on set. Mrs Overall – a character created by comedienne Victoria Wood – makes her grand entrance on a stairlift, which was one of the main events in the show.

And Dogs Don’t Miss Out Either – The world’s first stairlift for dogs has been invented, which retails at just over £5,000. It has a ‘paw push’ start button and the dog climbs into a plastic bucket which rises from the floor and takes them up or downstairs.

Ransome Mobility supply and install straight stair lifts or curved stair lifts for domestic or commercial properties. To find out more, just click on the link above.