Stairlift History

History Blog:

Origins of the stairlift

Origins of Stairlifts


In England we often joke about the stairlift (See However, whilst we sometimes like to poke a little fun at our limitations – tens of thousands of us would be in a mess had it not been invented. This aid to safety on the stairs is usually described here in England with one single word – stairlift or chairlift, whereas the Americans – if their spell checks are anything to go by – prefer the double word version of stair lift or chair lift.

Who do we thank for origins of the stairlift?

The origins of what is now a highly advanced technical boost to the elderly or perhaps those disadvantaged with disability or illness have rarely been explored.

Union JackPennsylvania State Emblem

A gentleman originating from Pennsylvania in the 1920s – an American engineer – produced a chair device to help his polio-stricken friend climb stairs unaided.
Mr Crispen, as he was known (nothing to do with “Walkers” – see how the sense of humour at Castle Comfort Stairlifts creeps in to the subject) called it the “Inclinator.” Many online references support the claim such as – however the claim to be first at the newell post is, in 2009, being strongly disputed by historian Dr David Starkey. After completing a study of the possessions of one of our most infamous monarchs ever, the blame for the origins of the first ever stairlift can be put on none other than, wait for it??HENRY VIII !

(See Daily Mail News Article).


“A chair that goes up and down.”
We will explain. Supporting, dealing with six wives and then founding the Church of England still left the flamboyant monarch the time to consume meals often consisting of thirty courses that quickly produced a state of obesity centuries before the term appeared in upper case in our medical dictionaries. A fifty-two inch waist confirmed an obvious mobility restriction – so the Kings aides were soon to create a chair hauling method – with block and tackle pull ropes – similar to those used on his warship the Mary Rose.

This innovative creation required the strength of numerous servants lifting the giant royal thirty stone framework up some 20 feet of staircase at the Whitehall Palace in London. On top of everything a jousting accident causing an injury had meant that the Kings days of travelling, hunting and horse riding some twenty miles daily were undoubtedly numbered.

Indeed, the arrival of the “Stairthrone” meant, as it was to many of his contemporaries centuries later – that he could “stay in his home forever”.