Express Lifts Tower

A lighthouse slap bang in the centre of Britain, 70 miles from the sea? Is East Anglia eroding that quickly that Northampton will become a seaside town? Terry Wogan had plenty of fun lampooning this structure on national radio and it quickly became affectionately known as the Northampton Lighthouse.


One of only two lift testing towers in europe, the 127m National Lift Tower was built in 1980 by the Express Lifts company as a testing tower for their lifts. The Queen officially opened the tower on 12 November, 1982.

Commissioned in 1978 by architect Maurice Walton of Stimpson and Walton, the tower rose at a fast rate with the first 90 metres being formed over three weeks of continuously poured concrete. 4,000 tons of concrete were poured to build this 418ft tower which stands 14 ft higher than Salisbury cathedral. The base of the tower is 48ft in diameter and tapers to 28ft at the top. It is the only one in Britain and one of only two in Europe.

Inside it contains three shafts that were designed to test lifts at 22ft per second. Two internal staircases would get engineers to the top glass observation tower.

The tower was granted "Grade 2 Listed" status 1997 for its architectural interest to protect it from any adverse re-developement proposals when the Express Lifts company sold out to Otis Lifts and closed its doors in January of the same year.

Northampton Lighthouse is an ambitious new artwork that will signal 2012 hours to go before the official opening of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games on the 27th July. From 9pm on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th May Northamptonshire residents will see the iconic National Lift Tower (formerly Express Lift Tower) and regional landmark transformed into its local namesake i.e. The Northampton Lighthouse. The laser beam is expected to be seen over a 40 mile radius on Friday and Saturday night. Two 20w lasers beams will be projected simultaneously for between 15-30 seconds on a North – South axis, and then switched to an East-West axis.  In addition high powered LED lighting will be projected up the sides of the tower provided a subtle changing colour shift.