Jacob’s Ladder is a run of 699 steps up from Jamestown in the floor of the valley to the Ladder Hill Fort on the western valley slope. It has twice been voted one of the Seven Wonders of St Helena and is a significant heritage site on the island.
The Cable Railway
Jacob’s Ladder is a Grade I listed monument adjacent to Jamestown, St. Helena. It runs from Jamestown up ‘Ladder Hill’ to the village of Half Tree Hallow at the summit. What survives today are the remnants of a horse-driven cable railway installed in 1829 by the Saint Helena Railway Company designed to carry materials from Jamestown to Ladder Fort at the summit. The railway was designed by J.W. Hoar, a local engineer, and the Royal Artillery Engineers under the supervision of Lt. G.W. Mellis. Cars would run on a pair of iron rails fixed onto wooden joists that were attached to the rock face. It rises some 603 feet above sea level, is 924 feet in length and comprises 699 steps–it has an average rise of 11 inches.
Restoring Jacob's Ladder
By 1871 the Ladder had fallen into disrepair and was dismantled with the central pedestrian stairways staying intact.
The UK-St Helena Heritage Trust - then the British Napoleonic Bicentenary Trust - surveyed the ladder and developed a plan to preserve the site for many generations to come. Thanks to generous donations to the Trust, work on restoring the Ladder commenced in August 2022, and was completed with the site being re-opened to the public in April 2023.