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Just as Everard Hesketh took over as Chairman of J & E Halls in 1880, the company became involved in the production of the Cyclic Elevator, a continuously moving passenger lift.

In 1925 the old established Medway Safety Lift Company offered the entire manufacturer of its passenger and goods lifts to J & E Hall. Halls had foreseen that there would be a marine as well as a land market for lifts. In fact one of the earliest orders came from Harland and Wolff for the White Star liner Laurentic. Refrigeration contracts stimulated orders for Halls' lifts not only in passenger liners but also in warships. In the 1939-45 war Halls installed lifts in Vanguard, Eagle, Majestic and other powerful units of the Royal Navy. The land users were owners or occupiers of all kinds of tall buildings: offices, factories, residential blocks, colleges, department stores, hotels and civic buildings. Among the more newsworthy customers were the new House of Commons rebuilt after the Second World war, the Parliament building of Northern Ireland, the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden and the Royal Palace in Bangkok. Overseas sales mounted over the years, especially to Canada, and Victor Patterson, who had been a leading figure in the development of the vertical transport department, was congratulated on his export achievements in 1952 by the President of the Board of Trade.

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Paternoster lift
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A curious feature of the lift business was the revival, briefly referred to earlier, of the continuously moving lift. Called the Paternoster lift, it was more handsome than but no different in basic principle from its poor relation of the early 1900s. It was better known and more readily accepted on the Continent than in the UK. Since it did not stop for the passenger to enter or alight, it looked alarming and sales at first were slow in spite of its advantages. It could handle twice as many 'up' passengers as the most advanced high-speed lifts of its time, and a comparable volume of traffic at the same time on the downward phase of the cycle.

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Vertical transport was Halls' portmanteau term for both lifts and escalators. In 1931 - as it happened, in the depths of the national economic depression - Halls signed an agreement to manufacture 'moving staircases' under licence from the German patentee Carl Flohr. The timing could not have been more fortunate. Bentalls, the well-known department store at Kingston-upon-Thames, had just completed plans for a new building on lines never before attempted on this side of the Atlantic, a store in which escalators were not merely an accessory but an integral part of the design. They invited tenders for the installation and Halls won the contract. Bentalls' escalator hall became an architectural showpiece and new business for Halls followed from Harrods. Selfrdges and other famous London and provincial stores, also from department stores in Canada and Australia.

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Halls improved upon the original designs, establishing new standards of silent and vibrationless running. These qualities gained them a significant order immediately upon resumption of escalator production after the six-year wartime intermission for a set of escalators in the Oratory, Montreal, a unique innovation for a house of prayer and a tribute to Halls' achievement of noise reduction in their product. In 1951 Halls installed an escalator in the Dome of Discovery in the Festival of Britain on London's South Bank, which was believed to be the longest single escalator span without intermediate support. When it had served its original purpose it was transferred to the new London Underground Railway station at Alperton. Throughout the fifties and sixties lifts and escalators sold well. The company supplied a hundred escalators to the new underground railway in Montreal, manufactured locally under license to Halls' design, and a further eighty-two were manufactured under a similar arrangement for the Paris Metro. At home, the Ocean Dock Passenger Terminal at Southampton and the new London terminal of British European Airways were important customers. The building industry helped to boost production of Paternoster continuous lifts as well as orthodox lifts and escalators: over 150 lifts were constructed for the hospital building programme alone.

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Lift and escalator production continued until well into the 1960s. Orders were good but margins had begun to shrink and the effort devoted to vertical transport was needed for refrigeration production. In 1967 a subsidiary company, Hall Lifts & Escalators Ltd,was formed to handle sales and production, operating from the Group's Silex Street premises in London to release space in Dartford. The following year, consistently with a new policy to concentrate wholly on refrigeration and air-conditioning , the subsidiary enterprise was sold to the Otis Elevator Company Ltd. Vertical transport had served its purpose of supplementing refrigeration production in the bad times and adding its quota of profit in the good.

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