A paternoster is a passenger lift which consists of a continuous chain of open compartments. It is a lift which you ride until you get out. After the last landing, the compartments of this lift simply change the movement direction by means of a chain wheel.

The name paternoster is derived from the Latin words pater noster, i.e. “Our Father”. So-called rosaries are used during masses, which is a sort of set of beads on a string and they are gradually moved, one by one, during prayers. This mechanism can resemble the paternoster principle.

The first mentions of the paternoster date back deep into history. For example, as early as ancient times a similar device was used to transport earth from mines or to transport water from wells. Paternosters of the present time were first installed in London in the nineteenth century, where they were widely used mainly in large institutions and big buildings. From there it quickly spread to the other parts of the world and, in the 1920s, it also appeared in this country.

Why is it still used nowadays? It is reasonably priced, has a large capacity and is reliable. No pressing a button and waiting. It is immediately ready for passengers to get in and out – at any moment, on any floor. A paternoster with fifteen compartments and a capacity of two persons per compartment can take even 30 persons at a time. Compared to the common lift type (0.5-1.6 m/s), the paternoster moves at a speed of approx. 0.3 m/s, but one need not take one’s time with other operations such as closing the door or starting and stopping the cabin.

Where can we encounter paternosters now? Approximately 70 paternosters are currently in use in the Czech Republic – for example, since 1929 one has been serving the employees and guests of the Czech Radio building. There the lift has 18 compartments and you can move through eight floors up and down. In Brno, one is used at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Brno University of Technology, where the paternoster underwent an excessive reconstruction in 2013 – it was completely disassembled and taken for the general renovation of the lifting mechanism and cabins. Another two paternosters can be seen in the building of the Brno City Council in Malinovského Square, and also in the post office building near the main railway station in Brno. The lift was put out of operation there for six years due to the risk of ignition of the rope equipment which was so soaked with oil and lubricant that a fire could be caused by friction. It was put in operation again in 2013. Paternosters are popular abroad, for example, in Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Russia, Hungary, Serbia, and Poland and, of course, in the country of origin of paternosters – the United Kingdom.

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Sources: (Czech)

Český rozhlas: Rekonstrukce budovy Českého rozhlasu dokončena VUT zrekonstruovala páternoster, oprava stála přes čtyři miliony

Wikipedia: Páternoster Páternoster a zuby času

Česká televize: Na poště se znovu rozběhl starý páternoster 

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