The original company was the Anglo-American Brush Electric Light Corporation, established in 1879 in Lambeth, London, by Charles Francis Brush. Brush, born in Cleveland, Ohio, developed his first dynamo in 1876 & founded the American Brush Company in 1881. The American company lasted until about 1891 when it was taken over by the General Electric Company. At first the main products were arc lamps & incandescent lights. 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.
After the onerous Act was repealed in 1888, the company branched out and started to manufacture of dynamos, motors, switchgear and small transformers. In 1889 the company moved to the Falcon Engine and Car Works in Loughborough. The title of the company was changed soon after the moving to Loughborough to The Brush Electrical Engineering Company. 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 were made in 1900/01 mainly for the tramcar building department. The Lambeth works lasted until about 1914.
There was a steady demand for equipment for industrial electrification and the electric street tramways were another important line of business for the Company. The entire work of electrification of tramways was carried out including the construction of lines and overhead wiring. In addition, small steam locomotives were built, mainly for shunting.
The first heavy oil engine made its appearance in 1935 & 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.
In 1947 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'.
Brush were taken over by the Hawker Siddeley Group in 1957. During the period 1957 - 1991, Brush were making two complete diesel-electric locomotives for British railways per week.
In 1991 the Hawker Siddeley Group was taken over by BTR plc and as a result of this takeover the old Traction Division got spun off into 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 back to being a division of Brush Electrical Machines Ltd, and the Company's Industrial Controls Division became part of FKI's LSE Division.
Brush Traction still exists anbd is now a division of the Wabtec Rail Group.