Why’s It Called a Dumbwaiter?

The dumbwaiter is one of a number of bewildering product names that are used regularly, whilst their origins are lost in the mists of time. Others in this category include HP sauce, bungalowsketchup or palace. Tower Lifts clients tend to be a tenacious bunch, though, so we thought it was time to find out a bit more about where the term ‘dumbwaiter’, or ‘dumb waiter’ originally came from.

What is a Dumbwaiter Lift?

Let’s start with the ‘what?’ first and then move on to the ‘why?’. The dumbwaiter is a service lift, normally small and waist high, that is used to move goods between one location and another. The word ‘dumbwaiter’ was first used in 1749 and it has been popular ever since. The 21st century version of the dumbwaiter can be found in restaurants, hotels, department stores, pubs, private houses and mansions.

Why ‘Dumbwaiter’

We’re all familiar with the image of the loyal, and ultimately discrete waiter who serves at table efficiently, silently and without disturbing the flow of guests’ conversation. The problem is that this paragon of silent efficiency is rare. Historical discussion of servants tends to linger on their clumsiness, their inability get food to the table hot, and their lack of discretion when it comes to repeating the latest gossip heard in snatches when serving.

Back in the eighteenth century the problem got so bad that an enterprising cabinet maker created a movable platform on wheels. It was designed to hold teatime treats that could be wheeled from guest to guest without needing a servant. Indiscrete waiting staff were banned from the dining room, conversation lost its need for cover, and the term ‘dumbwaiter’ was born.

The Evolution of the Dumbwaiter

The idea of the dumbwaiter caught on amongst rich families, and began to evolve. First a rope and pulley version was created to transport food from basement kitchens to the dining room. Then, in 1883, a New York inventor created the first mechanical dumbwaiter lift. This breakthrough heralded the commercial birth of the service lift. Suddenly they were appearing in restaurants, public houses hotels – and even banks.

Do you require a dumbwaiter lift? Call the Tower Lifts lift team today on 01525 601099 for more information.

The Dumb Waiter on Stage

In 1957 the dumbwaiter lift took to the stage thanks to playwright Harold Pinter. In ‘The Dumb Waiter’ two hit men sit in a grimy London basement awaiting instructions from their boss. The set comprises two beds located on either side of an old fashioned dumbwaiter lift, with a speaking tube. As events unfold, food orders start arriving via the service lift, throwing the hit men into total disarray. Finally, the speaking tube plays a central role in providing instructions that edges the play to its chilling denouement.

The Dumb Waiter Lift in the 21st Century

The dumbwaiter could be described as the ‘national treasure’ of the lift world. The Tower Lifts design and installation team have created service lifts for domestic customers, and a dazzling array of commercial clients. This supremely practical lift installation is now increasingly finding itself centre stage as restaurants and stores feature their dumbwaiter ‘up front’, rather than keeping it hidden away.

If you’d like more information about having a bespoke dumbwaiter lift designed and installed, call the Tower Lifts team today on 01525 601099

Tower Lifts carry out design and installation on a varied range of lifts throughout the UK including:

Domestic Lifts • Food Lifts • Bespoke Platform Lifts • Service Lifts • Platform Lifts • Goods Lifts • Scenic Lifts • Heavy Duty / Car Lifts • Passenger Lifts • Dumbwaiter Lifts • MRL Lifts • Fire lifts • Residential Lifts • low-Headroom Lifts