National Lift Tower Site Visit

We visited the National Lift Tower in Northampton on a warm and sunny day in July 2017.  The National Lift Tower is 127m tall and the world’s largest drainage test facility.  It is located in the midst of a social housing development and, were it not the tallest building for miles around, it would hide itself perfectly!  It was granted Grade II listed building status in October 1997, at the time making it one of the youngest listed buildings in the UK.  It is also affectionately know as the Northampton Lighthouse.

National Lift Tower, Northampton

(Copyright Oast House Archive and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence)

We were greeted by Steve White and his colleagues from Studor and welcomed into their test facility within the Tower.  Although high rise buildings are now using 21st century design and innovation, above ground drainage systems are still based on 19th century engineering.

Steve White gave us a very interesting presentation on how air flow movement can cause problems with trap seals and it is therefore very important to “balance the pressure” to avoid the inevitable flow back of product.     His presentation is attached [Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3)

Following a very pleasant lunch – we were then taken on a tour of the test facilities and shown some “real life” pressure issues.  These were very interesting to observe and we quickly learnt that it is better of have pressure balance than to risk being given an unexpected “shower”.


The visit was rounded off by a photo session at the top of the tower where my phone registered a temperature of 34 degrees centigrade – luckily the breeze at the top kept us cool.

We did wonder at those brave folk who often abseil down the Tower to raise funds for their favourite charity – it certainly looks a long way down.  In order to discourage birds from nesting on the top of the Tower this little fellow guards the roof !