Brush Traction is a manufacturer and maintainer of railway locomotives owned by the Americas Wabtec Corporation, and based at Loughborough in Leicestershire, UK, and situated alongside the Midland Main Line.
Access from main line
In 1865, Henry Hughes, who was a timber merchant engineer, began building horse-drawn tramcars and railway rolling stock at the Falcon Works in Loughborough. His first company was known as the Hughes's Locomotive & Tramway Engine Works Ltd. Records are very sparse, but it seems that he began producing steam locomotives about 1867 for the Paris Exhibition. His main business, however, was tram engines, lightweight steam engines (usually with condensers) which drew passenger cars, made possible by the Tramways Act 1870. Among these was "The Pioneer" for the Swansea and Mumbles Railway. These were distinct from those tramcars where the boiler mechanism was an integral part of the passenger car. Amongst the first steam locomotives built there was "Belmont", which ran on the Snailbeach District Railways, and three gauge 0-4-0STs for the Corris Railway supplied in 1878. The Corris locomotives are said to have been works numbers 322, 323 and 324, implying that the tram vehicles and steam locomotives were included in a single numerical sequence.
In 1881 Hughes' built two gauge 0-4-0STs for the Liverpool Corporation Waterworks Committee for use in the construction of the waterworks at Lake Vyrnwy in Wales. In 1881 the company ran into legal problems and in 1882 it was in receivership. Hughes departed, soon after, for New Zealand, where in collaboration with local engineer E.W Mills, he built small tramway engines.
Late in 1882 the company reformed as the Falcon Engine & Car Works Ltd. and supplied three more locomotives of the same design for the railways at Vyrnwy. Again there are few records, but the factory remained busy with both railway and tramway locomotives and rolling stock. Among these were tank locomotives for Ireland, Spain and the Azores. Some were subcontracts from other firms, such as Kerr Stuart, at that time, in Glasgow.
In 1889, the assets were acquired by the London-based Anglo-American Brush Electric Light Corporation, which moved the 100 miles north into the Falcon Works at Loughborough, under the new name, Brush Electrical Engineering Company Limited.
Between 1901 and 1905 the Brushmobile electric car was developed using a Vauxhall Motors engine, although only six were built. One of these six featured in the film Carry On Screaming. Nearly 100 buses, plus some lorries were built using French engines[clarification needed] until 1907.
Brush Electrical Engineering also built some carriages that were used in the 1900s on the Central London Railway and the City and South London Railway, the respective forerunners of London Underground's Central and Northern lines.
In all, about 250 steam locomotives were built in addition to the tram engines. Production finished after World War I and the company concentrated on transport-related electrical equipment, including tramcars, trolleybuses and battery-operated vehicles.
In World War II Brush Coachworks diversified into aircraft production, building 335 de Havilland Dominies for the Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm. Wing sections were built for Lancaster bombers and Hampden fuselages were overhauled.
The coachworks continued after the war with omnibus bodies mounted on Daimler chassis using Gardner five-cylinder diesel engines and Daimler preselector gearboxes as well as AEC and BMMO Chassis for Midland Red and 100 Leyland Titans for Birmingham City Transport as well as bodies to the design of the British Electric Traction group on Leyland Royal Tigers. In 1952 the coachworks were closed and the goodwill and patents were bought by neighbouring Willowbrook.
Close to Derby and its railway workshops, it retained its contacts with the railway. Acquired by Heenan & Froude in 1947, it was merged with W. G. Bagnall to produce diesel locomotives. In 1951, the company Brush Bagnall Traction Limited was formed. When British Railways began to replace its fleet of steam engines, Brush entered the market for main line diesel-electric locomotives.
In 1957, the Brush group were bought up by Hawker Siddeley. As part of Hawker Siddeley Electric Power Group, it then passed to BTR plc and became Brush Traction. Later[when?] it became part of FKI Energy Technologies, itself purchased in 2008 by Melrose plc). On 28 February 2011, Wabtec announced it would purchase Brush Traction for US$31 million.
The locomotive works are still occupied by the Brush Traction Company and are in use for the building, overhaul and repair of locomotives.
Brush manufactured various diesel and electric locomotives for the British railway network:
Brush Traction also manufactured locomotives for export:
They were also a major supplier of traction equipment to rapid transit systems, in particular, London Underground and Docklands Light Railway in the UK, and to Canada and Taiwan.
Traction equipment was supplied to British Rail for various Electric Multiple Unit trains, the Class 43 HST diesel locomotive, with similar equipment being supplied to Comeng in Australia in 1979, and used in the Class 56 and 58 freight locomotives.
Brush repowered most Class 43 HST power cars with MTU engines between 2005 and 2010.
Preserved in Salou, Spain, on a plinth adjacent to the former terminus of the F.C. Reus-Salou, a former turntable is also outside the old station. Only some 30 metres from the current RENFE station.
Over 75 examples of Brush Traction built engines have been preserved and can be seen at heritage railways across the United Kingdom. Many more examples can still be seen in action today on the mainlines.
Preserved in the United Kingdom:
In 1940, Brush required some small battery-electric tractor units, but as none were commercially available, they asked AC Morrison of AE Morrison and Sons (later Morrison-Electricar) to produce a design for one. Morrisons produced a 3-wheeled design, which Brush then used to manufacture a number of units for internal use. Subsequently, they began selling them on the open market and shipped a large order to Russia in 1941. They added battery electric road vehicles to their product list in 1945, buying the designs and manufacturing rights from Metropolitan Vickers, so that early Brush vehicles are almost indistinguishable from late Metro-Vicks. 3-wheeled vehicles were marketed as the Brush Pony, and they also produced 4-wheeled vehicles. In 1948 they added a 2-ton chassis to their range, which could be supplied with a large van, standard van, flat truck or milk float body. The welded box-section chassis was fitted with semi-elliptic springs and a Lockheed hydraulic braking system. The 36-cell 290 Ahr battery was mounted on both sides of the central spine. The electric motor was connected to a banjo-type rear axle by a Layrub propellor shaft. In common with other Brush vehicles, control was by a double-depression foot pedal, where the first depression gave two stages of control with the two-halves of the battery connected in parallel, and the second depression gave a further two stages with the batteries in series.
In early 1949, they reduced the prices of their electric vehicles by around 25 per cent, in an attempt to make them more competitive with petrol vehicles. The models affected were the 10-14 cwt chassis and the 18-22 cwt chassis, and they were hoping to see a five-fold increase in sales. Sales of their industrial electric truck had trebled between 1947 and 1948. All of their road vehicles were sold through the motor trade, in order to achieve a good standard of after-sales service.
In 1949, they offered 25 standard bodies for their chassis, including a mobile canteen or ice cream parlour, which they exhibited at the Dairy Show that year. The vehicle had a top speed of 16 mph, and a range of 28 miles, based on eight stops per mile. Production of 4-wheeled battery electrics ceased in 1950, although the company continued to manufacture the 3-wheeled Brush Pony milk float and their range of industrial trucks. They maintained enough spare parts to allow them to service 4-wheeled vehicles for a further 10 years and sold the remainder to Hindle, Smart and Co of Manchester, who made Helecs milk floats.
In 1972, Hawker Siddeley bought a 50 per cent share in Crompton Leyland Electricars Ltd (CLE), from British Leyland. CLE was the manufacturer of Morrison-Electricar milk floats, and at this point Hawker Siddeley owned Brush, R A Lister and Company, based in Dursley, Gloucestershire and Brook Victor Electric Vehicles, based in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, all of which were producing electric vehicles. In order to rationalise their operations, construction of Brush industrial trucks was transferred to the Morrison-Electricar factory in Tredegar. Although most of the vehicles involved were industrial trucks, the 3-wheeled Brush Pony milk float was also included, and a number of these were subsequently manufactured at Tredegar. Also included was the SD tractor, which was still selling well, and included a drive unit which had originally been designed for Brush by Morrisons in 1940.
An early Brush Pony 3-wheeled milk float, formerly operated by United Dairies and dating from 1947, is on display at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu. A Brush 10/14 cwt Mark II bread van, also dating from 1947, and formerly owned by the Co-operative Wholesale Society, can be seen at The Transport Museum, Wythall. The Ipswich Transport Museum has a Brush Pony electric laundry van dating from 1967 in their collection.