The History & Evolution of The Stairlift

Do you have a stairlift? Whether it is a straight stairlift or a curved stairlift. Have you ever wondered how the stairlift came about?

Here is some history facts about the stairlift

King Henry VII – The “Stairthrone”

Most people believe that the first stairlift was invented in the 1920’s by C.C. Crispen. However, TV historian Doctor David Starkey has in 2009, found evidence in a list of the possessions of King Henry VIII that attributes the first stairlift invented to the monarch. The 30 stone king, injured through jousting, used a chair that was hauled up and down the stairs on a block and tackle system by servants at the ancient Whitehall Palace in London. It is described in royal records as “a chair…that goeth up and down” (wiki)

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Late 1800s

Frederick Muffett of Royal Tunbridge Wells, invented and patented the “An Invalid Chair with Tramway for use on Staircases”. However, there seems to be no evidence that his plans moved from design to a workable lift.(wiki)

C.C. Crispen – The Inclin-ator

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In the 1920s, C.C. Crispen, a Pennsylvania entrepreneur, created a way to enable his ailing friend to travel from floor to floor. Crispen’s idea was to design a seat that could climb stairs. A self-taught engineer, he built the first prototype of the inclining chair. He called it the Inclin-ator.

The modern stairlift can be traced back to self-taught mechanical engineer and entrepreneur C.C. Crispen. In 1923, Crispen got the idea for a climbing seat which was capable of travelling between floors when visiting a neighbour who was confined to an upstairs bed for medical recovery.
Within a few days, Crispen’s idea had transformed from a mere concept to the beginnings of a US Patent. His engineering experience allowing him to develop a folding wooden chair with a footrest, which used a motor wired into the house’s standard electrics to travel up and down on a steel rail on rollers. He named it the Inclin-ator, conveying the idea of an elevator which worked on an incline.

The Inclinator Company Of America

In 1924, Crispen was invited to display his Inclin-ator in the Philadelphia Electric Company’s showroom, which led to his simple idea to help a neighbour being developed into The Inclinator Company of America. Shortly after this, the ingenious invention caught the attention of Westinghouse Electric, who had one installed at their Electric Home on Atlantic City’s boardwalk. The popularity of the Inclin-ator led to the invention of the first residential elevator, named the Elevette, which gave an alternative to the Inclin-ator for homes with winding staircases and could be custom-made to fit the available space or made large enough to fit a wheelchair inside if required.

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During this period, the Inclin-ator was frequently used by those suffering from polio, which can cause muscle weakness and paralysis, although Crispen’s inventions also caught the eye of a few famous names, who had them installed in their homes. These included, among others, inventor Thomas Edison, business magnate John D. Rockerfeller, automotive founders Henry Ford and Walter Chrysler, and entertainer Groucho Marx.
The business is still owned by the Crispen and Krum families, with Paul Krum having joined Inclinator in 1929 and succeeding C.C. Crispen as president.

InclinatorAdCircaApril1933ThePolioChronicle
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References

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