a castle lift restoration case study

Lift Type: Bespoke Hotel Lift
Case Study: Restoration at Cabra Castle
Location: Kingscourt, County Cavan

the grounds and exterior of Cabra Castle

A 19th Century Castle That’s More Than Just a Building

Cabra Castle, a picturesque Tudor Revival style country house is intrinsically linked to the social and architectural heritage of Kingscourt and Co.Cavan. The castle was built upon the ruin of the earlier Cormey Castle in the first decade of the nineteenth century. Over the years, ownership has changed hands on multiple occasions, passing through aristocratic families and local dynasties before being purchased by the present owners, the Corscadden family, who reopened it as a hotel in 1991. Since then, the property has been extensively refurbished and expanded from 24 bedrooms to a sprawling 105 bedroom estate.

There was a lift installed in one of the castle’s main towers in the 1940s. However this was closed in the mid nineties and left idle for over 25 years. When our team first inspected its interior, they found the lift shaft overgrown with brambles and thorn bushes. A natural spring found 4 feet below the shaft floor added to the sense that the old lift had been reclaimed by the wild.

Although Cabra Castle has many rooms available in the lower levels, the incredible views from the upper levels make upstairs rooms strongly sought after by returning guests. Unfortunately, due to the lift’s continued inactive status, the team at Cabra Castle found themselves having to insist upon ground floor bedrooms for those with impaired mobility. Premier Lifts was called upon to rectify this situation.

the exterior and gardens of Cabra Castle lit at night

The Challenges Associated with Installing a Lift in a Listed Castle

Cabra Castle is a listed building. This means that it is judged to hold national importance in terms of architectural and historic interest. A preservation order on the older part of the castle meant that work carried out on the lift could not affect the building’s structure. Although the removal of the old lift and overgrown shrubbery would be relatively straightforward, the listed property classification presented a number of other challenges.

Firstly, the age of the building meant that extensive work was needed so the shaft could safely support the new lift. This work needed to be done while preserving the building’s original structure. To overcome this, our team liaised with builders to remove a large portion of old bricks and install concrete pockets which supported the installation of internal guide rails. Added to this, there was the issue of the natural spring. Again this matter needed to be dealt with sensitively. Working with a third party, Premier Lifts arranged for the installation of a stainless steel floor to seal off the natural spring and prevent seepage. This team was also on hand to adjust the shaft’s skylight, which needed to be taken out, reconstructed and then reinstalled.

For this particular project, Premier Lifts decided upon a ECO 700 platform lift, one of our most popular lifts. However, this type of lift is usually installed in a shaft much larger than what was already in place at the castle. Also, the three-stop lift needed to facilitate a 9-metre travel distance. This is much more than you would normally expect of a three-stop lift. As our team couldn’t alter the structure of the shaft, the lift needed to be bespoke to fit the smaller area and greater travel distance.

One of the main requirements for this project was to install a lift that blended in with its surroundings and didn’t distract from the beauty and antiquity of the castle. For that reason, Premier Lifts opted for all minimalist finishes, with beige walls and floors which matched the existing design. This approach allowed the lift to be hidden in plain sight.

Cabra Castle Lift Installation – A Collaborative Effort

Collaboration was key to this project’s success. Strong channels of communication had to be maintained with the building’s architects, designers and planners to ensure that all work was carried out in accordance with the castle’s protected status. Thankfully, our team at Premier Lifts was able to lean on extensive experience of installing lifts in listed buildings to ensure compliance. The nature of the project meant that the planning stage was significant and complex. However, successful collaboration with engineers and outside contractors meant that when the lift was ready for installation, our team was able to complete the job in under a week.

A 19th century castle with protected status, an outgoing lift first installed over three quarters of a half century previous, a lift shaft overgrown with briars and brambles, a challenging brief and bespoke design requirements. These are not the ingredients for a straightforward lift installation project. However, thanks to an immense collective effort from architects, engineers, builders, the Premier Lifts team, and the management at Cabra Castle, there was a tremendously satisfying outcome. Now the spectacular views from the upper suites are open to all and a historic castle with its roots in the 1800s has been given a modern accessibility twist.

Thanks to everyone involved in helping make this project a success. Want to read more about how hotels and other tourist accomodation are upgrading their facilities? Discover how the Wild Atlantic Lodge bounced back from the disappointment of turning away potential guests due to limited accessibility..

Home lift by the staircase in a Victorian home


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