BRUSH electrical history - a collection.
This web site is devoted to the original Brush Electric Company of Cleveland OHIO, USA and its sister company the Anglo-American Brush Electric Light Company of London, ENGLAND. Both were formed in 1879 to exploit the patents and electrical dynamo and lighting system designs of Charles Francis Brush, a notable American inventor and entrepreneur.
Both the American and British companies endured trials and tribulations during their early years - and on this site you can read reports from newspapers and magazines of the day. Charles Brush seems to have been a remarkable high school and college student constantly tinkering with different materials, magnets, experimental conducting and insulation materials and the manufacturing methods which caused great industrial enterprises to start up and enter the Electric age in the late 1800's. National magazines in both Europe and USA wrote about the early years, and the competitive and litigation battles which occurred. According to numerous contemporary evaluations of the day the Brush dynamos (generators) and arc lamps were best in class. The Brush design and manufacturing standards were superior and the volumes of product produced/delivered and put into service exceeded any of the competitors.
In 1890 the American Brush company which owned the patents and manufacturing rights within the USA merged with Thomson Houston with whom there had been extensive manufacturing co-operation for some years prior. Shortly therafter in 1896 Thomson Houston (including Brush within the USA) merged with the smaller New York based Edison Electric to form General Electric Company. An 1896 chart of the many USA based companies that were consolidated is provided for review in the Americas section. Within just a few years there was much consolidation as dominant industrialists and their bankers gathered smaller companies into their larger conglomerates.
The Thomson Houston company also had manufacturing plants in Europe notably in Rugby, England. The Anglo-American Brush Electric Lighting Company of London which purchased the Brush patents and all manufacturing rights to markets outside USA remained independent and had established satellite manufacturing licensees in European countries (including Romania and France).
The Lambeth plant in London soon became insufficient for the volume of business gained and in 1889 the Brush Co. purchased a horse carriage and steam locomotive works in Loughborough in the English East Midlands region. Manufacture continued for a time in both the London and Loughborough factories. Subsequently, the Brush company moved all manufacture to the expanding Loughborough plant, where electric generators and control equipment are still manufactured today.
In the following pages you will find links to original documents and more recent reports prepared by students who have researched the company archives, the industrial pioneers of the day and the electrical machinery they designed and supplied.
During the early 1900's Charles Brush moved into new engineering and materials fields joining with Dr Carl Linde to form Linde Air Products, which became part of the Union Carbide Corporation. With his son Charles Francis Brush II as a partner the Brush Materials Company (which later became Brush-Wellman) was established for the mining and commercialization of Beryllium. The founder of the Brush companies remained a distinguished member of various scientific panels and industry bodies until his death in 1929.
Also included are more recent documents related to the modern Brush company who recently celebrated their 125 Anniversary. I hope you find these stories and articles both interesting and that they stimulate your mind to continue to seek and understand these innovations and their effect on today's society.
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C. F. BRUSH - Family & Bio
Charles Francis Brush
The first Cleveland local newspaper reports of Charles Brush experimenting were in 1878. He was noticed by an entrepreneur George Stockley, a former school friend, and allowed to use Stockley's telephone equipment factory to manufacture the first Brush hardware and prepare his patents.
You will find images of the early factory, contemporary reports on early Brush successes and magazine articles based on interviews given by Brush and his staff.
Brush anticedents and family tree.
The Brush Foundation
Here you can find materials on Charles Francis Brush’s parents and earlier generations of the Brush family.
On the death of Charles Francis Brush in 1929, a charitable foundation was founded, still active today. The Brush Foundation has proudly pursued a single focus on population, family planning and reproductive health.
Charles Brush as a young man spent much of his spare time investigating magnets, electrical mechanisms and insulation materials. He also hand made optical telescopes to study the stars. He gained access to a Cleveland workshop to assemble the materials and patented both dynamo (generator) and arc light devices. Recognising the commercial possibilities, his friend George Stockley, owner of the Cleveland Telegraph company financed start up manufacture in 1878, using the Brush dynamos to charge up batteries which powered the telegraph and later the telephone system. The Brush Electric Light Company was registered in 1879 and the Anglo-American Brush Electric Light Company the same year in London, United Kingdom.
Here for viewing and download if required you will find contemporary reports from local newspapers and technical articles in the scientific magazines of the day. The growth and challenges of the Brush business were studied in later years and hopefully from these papers you will gain a sense of the significant contribution that was made to the industrial landscape of the day.
The American Brush company merged with Thompson Houston (Lynn, MA) in 1889 which in turn joined with the Edison General Electric Co. (New York, NY) to form the General Electric Company in 1892. Particular original city Brush Lighting companies, established to provide local electric power services continued to carry the Brush name during the first part of the 20th century.
On this page you will also find extracts from the History of General Electric.
Below are published items about Brush and the early exploits prior to 1880 to give you just a taste of the immense changes going on in American society just 15 years after the end of the Civil War.
UK & Europe
Formed in 1879 to manufacture and market the inventions of American Charles Brush, the Anglo-American Brush Electric Light Company opened a factory in Lambeth. This factory was just south of the river Thames, and close to the railway line which crosses Hungerford Bridge to terminate at Charing Cross station. Today the SHELL building and the London Eye are notable landmarks close to where the Brush factory site was originally built.
2010 view of original Brush Victoria Works site
Advert for dropping arc light DYNAMO prices. As Brush began to dominate the market, prices dropped and forced some competitors out of the business.
Ad for diesel engine driven dynamo package
1925 Brush Coachworks built Barton bus
1885 Peter Brotherhood turbine driven package with Brush Dynamo
Falcon badge fitted to Brush coaches (buses)
1000's of these battery powered three wheeler were built and custom fitted for factory parts delivery, and in citys for milk and bread delivery, returning to the depot for charging between runs. trucks
Gas street lighting began to be replaced across the UK and Europe and production and products quickly expanded, until in 1888 the Brush board of Directors began looking for a place to expand. In 1888, among the current products were electric trams which needed passenger accommodations which at that time were wooden and resembled horse drawn buses and railway carriages. Also in 1888, the UK government were promoting local tramway systems. The Henry Hughes "Falcon" Carriage Works in Loughborough, founded by Henry Hughes, was identified as an ideal partner with space to expand, good supplies of local coal for fuel and labour at cheaper rates than in London. It was purchased and in 1889 the assets were taken over by the Anglo-American Brush Electric Light Corporation. It then became known as the Brush Electrical Engineering Company. The Falcon Works and trademark were used until the 1990's.
Products included steam engines, lights fittings, lamps, dynamos and trams and railcars. In the "Coachworks" nearly 100 buses, plus some lorries were built using French engines until 1907. Rail carriages were built that were used in the early 1900s on the Central London Railway and the City and South London Railway, the forerunners of London Underground's - Central and Northern Lines.
During World War I the Brush coachworks diversified into aircraft production, building Farman Longhorn, Avro 504C aircraft and Short 827 seaplanes, amongst others. 650 aircraft were built, also vehicles for the British War Department.
A total of over 250 steam locomotives were built, but after World War 1 steam engine production finished and the company concentrated on transport-related electrical equipment, including tramcars, trolleybuses and battery-operated vehicles, plus electric motors and engine driven generators. The coachworks built and fitted passenger accommodations on many different chassis to meet a growing population mobility and expanding road network.
During World War II the Brush coachworks again 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 bombers fuselages were overhauled and repaired.
In 1957 the Brush companies, which by now included diesel engine builders, Switchgear and Transformers as well as the railway products, merged into the Hawker Siddeley Group to become the Brush Electrical Machines division of H.S. Production had expanded to various sites across the UK.
After significant growth in export sales, in 1988 - the Brush Group was awarded the Queens Award for Industry - Export Achievement.
British Tyre & Rubber (BTR) in 1992, purchased the whole Hawker Siddeley group and many H.S. units were divested and rationalized but the Hawker Siddeley Electric Power Group which included the Brush Machines, Switchgear, Rail Traction, Transformers and Fuse-gear companies remained together under a unified management. In 1996, these were bought by FKI and became the FKI Energy Technology group which in turn was sold by FKI to Melrose plc in 2008.
Under FKI ownership, during 1999 and 2000 Brush Turbogenerators acquired large manufacturing plants in the Czech Republic and The Netherlands to handle a large added market demand.
The original Brush Traction locomotive works (part of the Brush Loughborough site) is still occupied by the traction business and remains in use for the rebuild, overhaul and repair of locomotives, but since 2011 has owned by Wabtec a successor company to the Westinghouse Brake & Signal company from the beginning of the railway engineering industry in the late 1800's. George Westinghouse an 1800's contemporary of the Brush founder Charles Francis Brush was another early pioneer of the engineering industry.
Brush Switchgear and Brush Transformers are still manufacturing in the UK. Brush Electrical Machines - Loughborough (UK) and Ridderkerk (Netherlands) manufacturing plants were closed in 2018 wilth all production now concentrated in the Plzen (Czech Republic) plant. ,
The Brush companies are all now part of the Melrose plc "Other Industrial" sector.
First 3 phase generator and transmission system completed.
Queen's Award for Industry - UK EXPORTs
Channel Tunnel freight loco's. 58 units delivered over 10 years
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All the documents and images on this site have been collected over the last 50 years and recently scanned or converted for display here, strictly for research and the general interest of visitors. Any items or images which are copyrighted are owned by the originator.
If you spot any mistakes in either content or layout, please let me know using the contact form. Of course if you have material that can be added to the site, I will be pleased to hear from you. Documents should be PDF and images *.jpg formats.
Any mistakes or omissions are mine, but will be verified and corrected where required.