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Pifl ’81 Day 23: The Babylon

Monday, January 23rd, 2023

The Babylon is a purpose built spa and hotel complex on Fyrenordan Road at the furthest end of the road from Pifl Harbour. The first spa was built by the de Pifl family in the 1750s to encourage the aristocracy to visit the town to take the airs. It is a fine example of 1920s art deco architecture.

One unique feature is a water aided paternoster running from the clifftop spa to the private beach and lido. The paternoster which uses water to ensure the downward force on the lift is greater than the weight to be lifted but which brings water back up when the weight on the downward side exceeds that on the upward side. Given the risk involved in their use its a miracle that no one has been killed or injured using the paternoster. This may be because they are little used due to the long section between the hotel and the beach where the rider is travelling in a barely lit vertical shaft cut into the solid rock of the cliff with no means of escape in the event of the paternoster failing.

Most visitors and staff prefer to use the more conventional pair of electric powered lifts that operate from the hotel to the beach level. Although originally intended purely for staff and freight use they are still oak panelled and operated by a uniformed member of staff. The current operators are a pair of identical twins who were employed as lift girls in the 1940s.

The hotel hosts an annual literary week focused on Crime Fiction during the off season.

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