Brush Traction

Brush Traction

Brush Traction is a manufacturer and maintainer of railway locomotives, based at Loughborough in Leicestershire, United Kingdom situated alongside the Midland 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 and mechanism was integral with the passenger car. Amongst the first steam locomotives built there was "Belmont", which ran on the Snailbeach District Railways, and three RailGauge|2ft3in 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 RailGauge|3ft gauge 0-4-0STs for the Liverpool Corporation Water Committee for use in the construction of the waterworks at Lake Vyrnwy in Wales.cite journal|author=Higgins, S.H.P.| title=Narrow Gauge at Vyrnwy Waterworks| journal=The Industrial Railway Record |publisher=The Industrial Railway Society| year=1974| volume=55 |pages=286–287] In 1881 the company ran into legal problems and 1882 was in receivership.

Late in 1882 it 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 taken over by the Anglo-American Brush Electric Light Corporation, which had been set up as the British arm of Charles Francis Brush's Brush Electric Company in America. It then became known as the Brush Electrical Engineering Company.

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 until 1907.

In all, about 250 steam locomotives were built in addition to the tram engines. Production finished after the First World War and the company concentrated on transport-related electrical equipment, including tramcars, trolleybuses and battery-operated vehicles. The coachworks continued with, after World War II, omnibus bodies mounted on Daimler chassis using Gardner five-cylinder diesel engines and Daimler preselector gearboxes.

Close to Derby and its railway workshops, it retained its contacts with the railway and in 1947 joined with W. G. Bagnall to produce diesel locomotives. When British Railways began to replace its fleet of steam engines, Brush entered the market for main line diesel-electric locomotives.

In 1957 it and Brush Electrical Machines were bought up by Hawker Siddeley to become the Brush Electrical Engineering Company Limited. As part of Hawker Siddeley Electric Power Group it then passed to BTR plc and became Brush Traction.

It is now part of FKI Energy Technologies.The locomotive works was subsequently purchased by the Brush Traction Company and is still in use for the repair of locomotives.


Brush has manufactured various diesel and electric locomotives for British railway network. These are listed below:
*Class 31 "Brush Type 2" mixed-traffic diesel locomotive
*Class 47 "Brush Type 4" mixed-traffic diesel locomotive (manufacture shared with BR)
*Class 53 "Falcon" prototype diesel locomotive
*Class 57 re-engineered diesel locomotive (rebuilt from Class 47)
*Class 60 heavy freight diesel locomotive
*Class 89 prototype electric locomotive
*Class 92 dual-voltage electric locomotive

It has also manufactured the electric locomotives operated by Eurotunnel through the Channel Tunnel.
*Eurotunnel Class 9

In addition, Brush Traction has manufactured and exported the following locomotive types:
* 1000bhp A1A-A1A main line diesel-electric locomotives for Ceylon in 1952
* 1730bhp Co-Co narrow gauge diesel-electric locomotives for Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1963
* Various Bo-Bo diesel electric freight locomotives to Cuba, Tanzania, Gabon, Morocco
* Battery electric locomotives to Hong Kong
*EF class heavy freight electric locomotive (New Zealand Railways)
* Class 18 shunter locomotives for Malayan Railways in 1978

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 also supplied to British Rail for various Electric Multiple Unit trains, the Class 43 HST diesel locomotive, similar equipment also being supplied to Comeng Australia in 1979, and the Class 56 and 58 Co-Co freight locomotives.

Surviving steam locomotives

* The third Hughes/Falcon locomotive supplied to the Corris Railway, works number 323 (although incorporating parts from 324 and probably 322 as well) now runs on the neighbouring Talyllyn Railway
* A standard gauge 0-4-0 saddle tank built by Brush Electrical Engineering is preserved at Snibston Discovery Park, Leicestershire
* A broad gauge (seven foot) saddle tank loco built at the Falcon Works survives in the Azores
* gauge locomotives Nos. 265 and 266 ex-Beria Railway, at the Phyllis Rampton Trust

Other Relics

* The large statue of a falcon from these works is now at the National Tramway Museum / Crich Tramway Village.


* Lowe, J.W., (1989) "British Steam Locomotive Builders," Guild Publishing
* Marsden, C.J., Fenn, B.F., (1988) "British Rail Main Line Diesel Locomotives", OPC
* Toms, G., (1978) "Brush Diesel Locomotives 1940-78", TPC Turntable
* Toms, G., (1999) "Brush Diesel & Electric Locomotive Works List", Industrial Railway Society
* Toms, G., (2008) "Brush Diesel & Electric Locomotives 1940-2008 Vol 1 -1980", Venture Publications

External links

* [ Brush Traction website]

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