From the standpoint of a DIY job, consider the lowly trailer winch. It is a geared down drum, usually equipped with a stout cable or webbing. For your purposes, you'd want a bare drum and a length of flexible steel cable (which will rust over time).
The cable should be long enough to reach from the ground to the winch drum, wrap two or three times around and hang off the opposite side with a payload container, aka bucket. The cable end at the ground should also have a bucket and some heft should be imparted to the bucket, to keep the cable taut to prevent tangling.
As the crank on the winch is turned, the toggle lock lever will prevent direction in the opposite direction until moved to the other position. This would allow the constructing party to lift the bucket to height and have it remain.
If sufficient width is available on the drum, secure the cable midpoint to the midpoint of the drum, while both sides of the cable are hanging halfway from ground to deposit point. Ensure sufficient drum wrap to allow one bucket to drop while the other reaches the top.
As with all things mechanical, there are risks. One risk is to have a finger in the exposed gear which engages the drum. There may be sharp edges and over time, frayed or rusty cables. A suitable protectant such as Boeshield T9 will keep rust away for many of your time periods.
If you prefer to not use such a mechanism, a similar construction could be accomplished with lumber and rope.
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