Why Stairlifts Date Back Further Than You May Think

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If you are struggling with the stairs and thinking of having a stairlift fitted, you might wonder how people managed back in the past.

It is certainly true that until relatively recently, few people would have a stairlift, but if you were royal, you might have been able to benefit from one a lot longer ago than might be imagined.

As Age UK Mobility notes, the Tudor historian Dr David Starkey identified King Henry VIII as the first person to have one. An inventory of his possessions included “a chair…that goeth up and down”, which can be interpreted as the first ever stairlift, one that would take the king up and down a 20ft staircase in the Whitehall Palace.

He was also believed to have had a stairlift to get up and down between decks on his flagship, the Mary Rose.

Of course, if you are a king you can get servants to haul you up and down with ropes. However, should the newly-crowned King Charles III need a stairlift in due course, it will be an electric one.

The modern electric device that a stairlift installer may fit in your home was invented rather more recently than Tudor times. A century ago, Pennsylvania-based engineer CC Crispen came up with the idea to benefit a friend who was immobilised by polio. Christened the Incli-nator, it ran on rollers and was hauled by a cable.

So successful did this idea turn out to be that Crispin founded the Inclinator Company of America in the 1930s and started to mass-produce stairlifts to help other polio sufferers. He also created a modified version that could work on curved staircases – and yet nearly a century later people still ask whether such a thing is available!

Nowadays people in most countries do not suffer from polio, the disease having almost been eradicated. But there are many other reasons folk will need a stairlift. It may be heartening to know that having one can place you in right royal company.