Brush Traction

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Coordinates: 52°46′55″N 1°11′50″W / 52.78194°N 1.19722°W / 52.78194; -1.19722 This article is about a British rail-locomotive maker. For the Detroit auto-maker, see Brush Motor Car Company

Brush Traction works in Loughborough

Brush Traction is a manufacturer and maintainer of railway locomotives, part of Wabtec Corporation, based at Loughborough in Leicestershire, England situated alongside the Midland Main Line.

Access to Brush Works

from Mainline

north to Derby/Nottingham
Meadow Lane
to Ruddington
Falcon Works
Nottingham Road(A60)
south to Leicester


Hughes's Locomotive & Tramway Engine Works[edit]

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 2 ft 3 in (686 mm) 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 3 ft (914 mm) gauge 0-4-0STs for the Liverpool Corporation Water Committee for use in the construction of the waterworks at Lake Vyrnwy in Wales.[1] 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.

Falcon Engine & Car Works[edit]

Works plate on Beira Railway BR7 4-4-0

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.

Brush Electrical Engineering Company[edit]

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.

de Havilland DH.89 Dominie built by Brush in April 1945 for the RAF
Class 47 diesel locomotive, no. 47815 Abertawe Landore at York Railfest on 3 June 2004. This locomotive is operated by First Great Western, and is painted in original British Railways two-tone green livery.

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.

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.

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.[2]

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 was closed and the goodwill and patents were bought by neighbouring Willowbrook.

Brush Bagnall Traction[edit]

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.[3] When British Railways began to replace its fleet of steam engines, Brush entered the market for main line diesel-electric locomotives.

Brush Electrical Engineering Company[edit]

In 1957 it and Brush Electrical Machines were bought up by Hawker Siddeley to become the Brush Electrical Engineering Company Limited.

Brush Traction[edit]

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 (owned, since 2008, by Melrose plc). The locomotive works is still occupied by the Brush Traction Company and is in use for the building, overhaul and repair of locomotives.

On 28 February 2011, Wabtec announced it would purchase Brush Traction for US$31 million.[4]


Brush manufactured various diesel and electric locomotives for the British railway network:

  • 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 also manufactured the Eurotunnel Class 9 electric locomotives operated by Eurotunnel through the Channel Tunnel.

Brush Traction also manufactured locomotives for export:

  • 800 bhp A1A-A1A main line diesel-electric locomotives for Ceylon in 1952 (Sri Lanka Railways M1)
  • 1000 bhp Bo-Bo diesel-electric locomotives for Sri Lanka in 1981 (the M7 class)
  • 1730 bhp 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 Corporation)
  • 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[edit]

  • No. 3, 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
  • 2 ft (610 mm) gauge locomotives Nos. 265 and 266 ex-Beria Railway, at the Phyllis Rampton Trust
  • Metre gauge Ex. F.C. Reus - Salou No. 3 0-4-0T Falcon ???/1886.

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.

  • Metre gauge Ex. F.C. Reus - Salou 0-4-0T No.6 Falcon 153/1888

Preserved in a public park in Cambrils near Salou.

  • Metre gauge Ex. F.C. Reus – Salou No.5 'SALOU' 0-4-0T Falcon 118/1886.

Preserved at Reus, Spain.

  • Metre gauge Ex. F.C. Olot -Gerona No.4 0-6-2T Builder: Falcon 281/1899.

Preserved at Reus.

Surviving diesel locomotives[edit]

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 light rail/tramway vehicles[edit]

Auckland Electric Tramways car 11

Preserved at Museum of Transport and Technology, Auckland, New Zealand:

  • Auckland Electric Tramways Company, No.11 (1902) – double-bogie (Brush D1) saloon tram. Restored
  • Auckland Electric Tramways Company, No.17 (1902) – double-bogie (Brush D1) double-decker tram. Unrestored.
  • Auckland Electric Tramways Company, No.24 / No.26 (1902) – Privately preserved box cars bodies only, which originally resided on a Brush four wheel trucks. Unrestored.
  • Auckland Electric Tramways Company, No.44 – (1906) AETCL built box car body which originally resided on a Brush four wheel truck. Retired 1931. Restored 2006 using a former Brussels 21E truck. Restored.
  • Preserved Auckland trams 89 and 91 originally fitted with Brush D1 trucks with Brush 1200 motors and 147 fitted with Brush Improved trucks and 203 refitted with the same.
  • Auckland Brush truck remnants. In 2012 excavations at the former Mount Roskill Bus Depot circa 1951 for a new Shopping centre uncovered over a dozen Brush D side frames along with a single Brush improved sideframe and remnants of Brush 1200 and Brush 1400 Motor cases. The side frames are now in MOTAT's possession for research and future Auckland tram restorations with the motor remnants being cared for in private hands for possible replication for various projects. It is believed to be the only Brush 1200 and 1400 motors to have survived in New Zealand if not the world.
  • Brush four wheel truck - copy of a 21e Brill. built for the Napier Tramways, New Zealand. Tram number unknown. Tram bodies sold off 1931 after Napier Earthquake. Truck used subsequently as the running gear for a Saw Mill railway shunter. Does not have traction motors.

Preserved in The United Kingdom:

  • Blackpool Tramways No.630 (1937) - Preserved at the National Tramway Museum, Derbyshire. Currently operational. Streamlined body. Modernised mid-1990s. Retired by Blackpool Transport in 2011.
  • Blackpool Tramways No.623 (1937) - Preserved at the Heaton Park Heritage Tramway, Heaton Park, Manchester. Currently operational. Streamlined body. Retired by Blackpool Transport in 2008.
  • Blackpool Tramways No.631 (1937) - Preserved by its original owner as part of their heritage fleet of vehicles. Currently operational. Modernised mid-1990s (though it has now reverted to its 1950s condition) Streamlined body. Retired by Blackpool Transport in 2011.
  • Blackpool Tramways No.626 (1937) - Preserved by the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society. Currently operational but prevented from doing so due to ownership dispute with Merseytravel. Dispute now solved, should enter re-service 2014. Streamlined body. Modernised mid-1990s. Retired by Blackpool Transport in 2010.
  • Blackpool Tramways No.634 (1937) - Preserved privately in Rushden, Northamptonshire. Under restoration. Streamlined body. Retired by Blackpool Transport in 2004.

Preserved / Operating at: The Manx Electric Railway Isle of Mann

Preserved aircraft[edit]

A de Havilland Dominie DH.89 that Brush built in 1946 for the RAF is preserved at Tangmere Military Aviation Museum on the West Sussex coast.

Other relics[edit]

Falcon statue once located at the works of Brush Traction now at the National Tramway Museum

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Higgins, S.H.P. (1974). "Narrow Gauge at Vyrnwy Waterworks". The Industrial Railway Record (The Industrial Railway Society) 55: 286–287. 
  2. ^ Jarram, A P. Brush Aircraft Production at Loughborough. Midland Counties Publications, 1978
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Wabtec buys Brush Traction". Railway Gazette. 28 February 2011. Archived from the original on 28 February 2011. Retrieved 28 February 2011. 


  • 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., (2009) Brush Diesel & Electric Locomotives 1940-2008 Vol 1 -1980, Venture Publications

External links[edit]