The original UK company was the Anglo-American BRUSH Electric Light Corporation which was established in 1879 in Lambeth, London, to exploit the inventions of Charles Francis BRUSH (1849-1929). BRUSH, born in Cleveland, Ohio, had developed his first dynamo in 1876 and founded the American BRUSH Electric Light Company in Cleveland OH also in 1879. In 1890 the American Brush company merged with Thompson Houston Electric in Lynn MA and in 1892 with Edison Electric of NY City to become the General Electric Company. The UK BRUSH Company owned the worldwide Patent and Sales rights of the various products excluding the United States.
Lighting equipment (both arc lamps and incandescent lights) was the main product at first, expanding with the formation of lighting supply companies throughout the country. After an early boom in the promotion of lighting companies, the Electric Lighting Act of 1882 laid down new and onerous conditions of operating so that a general period of stagnation followed in the newly-born electrical industry. However, there were some developments prior to the repeal of the Act in 1888, mainly in the field of industrial electrification.
Thus the company was able to thrive on the manufacture of dynamos, motors, switchgear and small transformers. Trade again increased after 1888 and the works in Lambeth, London, were no longer adequate for the vast increase in orders. New premises were required and, in the following year, the Falcon Engine and Car Works in Loughborough was purchased.
The title of the company was changed soon after the movement to Loughborough. At first, only the heavier manufacturing was transferred from Lambeth, but by 1895 most of the production was concentrated in the Falcon Works and large extensions. Where the BRUSH Lambeth plant was situated is now the Shell building and London Eye on the south bank of the River Thames.
Prior to the First World War, tramcars and electrical engineering were the mainstays of production. The works employed about 2,000 men around 1910. Wartime production was mainly concerned with munitions although vehicle bodies and even aircraft were constructed.
Electrical equipment sales remained steady during the period after WW1. Turbine production experienced a great boom after 1918 when some 20 complete turbines with the attendant equipment were delivered each year. The size of these machines was in the 1,500 kW, 3,000 kW and 5,000 kW ranges, and they were well suited to the small municipal and company electricity works then in vogue.
The first heavy oil engine made its appearance in 1935 and three years later in an attempt to diversify the range of products and to cater for an increasingly important line of business, the firm of Petters Ltd was taken over. Petters had been established in Yeovil, Somerset since the mid-19th century and had developed their first internal combustion engine in 1895. All the production was transferred to Falcon Works and remained there until 1948 when the former Lagonda Works at Staines, Middlesex were bought.
Employment in the works fell from a peak in 1925 when about 2,500 were employed to 1,500 some ten years later. The area of the works altered little, from 33 acres in 1924 to 35 acres in 1935 when the body shops covered about five acres.
After WWII the great demand for heavy electrical equipment, dormant for many years, returned to the company making good the damage of wartime losses, and also encouraging renewal of large-scale capital investment in power generation. The new companies in the BRUSH Group were now more competitive in modern conditions and the two branches, A.B.O.E. (Associated British Oil Engines) and BRUSH, were complimentary in engine building and electrical equipment. Four-wheeled battery electric vehicles first appeared in 1947 and in the same year the Company returned to railway work after a lapse of many years, when diesel and diesel-electric locomotives were built in conjunction with W.G Bagnall Ltd of Stafford.
Further companies joined the Group in 1950 when the National Gas & Oil Engine Company Ltd, Hopkinson Electric Company Ltd and the Vivian Diesels & Munitions Company Ltd of Canada were taken over. The title was changed to the "BRUSH - ABOE Group of Companies".
This was a period of great expansion with a large export drive and increasing capital investment at home together with a resumption of armaments during the crisis of the Korean War. The £40 million of orders in 1951 were more than twice those of 1950.
The last company to be acquired was Fuller Electric Ltd early in 1957. In April 1957 an offer of £22 million from the Hawker Siddeley Group was adopted and amalgamation took place. The BRUSH Group of Companies consisted of the following manufacturing units in April 1957 and had offices in Duke's Court, Duke Street, St James's, London S.W.1:
|DATE OF ACQUISITION||NAME||WORKS|
|1889||BRUSH Electrical Engineering Company Ltd||Loughborough|
|1940||Bryce Berger Ltd||Staines|
|1943||J & H McLaren Ltd||Leeds|
|1944||Mirrlees, Bickerton & Day Ltd||Stockport|
|1950||National Gas & Oil Engine Company Ltd||Ashton under Lyne|
|1950||Vivian Diesels & Munitions Ltd||Vancouver, B.C.|
|1957||Fuller Electric Ltd||Walthamstow, E.17|
In October 1960 the Falcon Works employed about 4,300 workers in the 40 acres of workshops in a total site area of 59 acres. A majority of workers, 3,700, were employed on heavy electrical work whilst 500 were in the Traction Division and 100 on electric vehicle construction. The main production of the works still centred on electrical engineering with heavy transformers, generators, motors, switchgear etc.
In 1970 Hawker Siddeley Power Engineering, a project engineering group, was formed as a separate company with an office at a nearby site in Burton-on-the-Wolds and another at Chelmsford in Essex. Twelve months or so later, in 1971, the product divisions of the BRUSH Electrical Engineering Company Ltd were formed into separate manufacturing companies. Initially these comprised BRUSH Electrical Machines Limited, BRUSH Switchgear Ltd and BRUSH Transformers Limited, with BRUSH Switchgear taking on the responsibility of the Fusegear Division until January 1973 when BRUSH Fusegear Ltd was formally constituted.
By this time there were approximately 5,000 workers on the Loughborough site.
In November 1991, the Hawker Siddeley Group was taken over by BTR plc in a £1.5 billion bid.
In the subsequent re-organisation BRUSH Electrical Machines Ltd became a major company within the BTR Electric Power Group, and the company's Traction Division became a separate company, BRUSH Traction Ltd.
In November 1996, the FKI Group of Companies acquired the Hawker Siddeley Electric Power Group from BTR, BRUSH Electrical Machines and the other BRUSH companies joining the Group's Engineering Division. Following this, BRUSH Traction Ltd reverted to being a division of BRUSH Electrical Machines Ltd, and the Company's Industrial Controls Division became part of FKI's Industrial Drives Division.
In 2000 FKI plc purchased the Dutch company Holec Machines and Apparaten, to enhance the BRUSH 4 pole turbogenerator product ranges. This Company was renamed BRUSH HMA.
In March 2001, FKI purchased Škoda Elekricke Stroje from the main Škoda group and following the acquisition the company was was renamed BRUSH SEM.
On 1 July 2008 Melrose completed the acquisition of FKI plc for a total consideration, including debt, of just under £1 billion.