The Express Lift Company
Old Express Lifts Logo



Subsidiary of

General Electric Company plc (GEC)

Preceded by

Smith Major & Steven (SMS) Lifts

Succeeded by

Otis Elevator Company

Year active

1920s - 1997[1]



The Express Lift Company was the oldest UK-based elevator division that belongs to General Electric Company (GEC) and based in Northampton, England. It was acquired by Otis in 1997[1].


GEC logo

The General Electric Company (GEC) logo

The Express Lift Company was established in 1917 as a merger between Easton Lifts and The General Electric Company (GEC) in 1917. In 1927, Smith, Major & Stevens joined Express Lift[2] and productions were moved to the Abbey Works in Northampton. The company installed its first escalator in 1932 at the Earl Court Exhibition Centre in London, which was based on Westinghouse's design.

In the late 1970s, a lift testing tower called Express Lift Tower (now National Lift Tower) was built in Northampton, England to facilitate lift/elevator testing and research of Express Lift. It was completed in 1982.

In 1995, Express Lift merged with Evans Lifts, an elevator company based in Leicester to form ExpressEvans. Two years later, ExpressEvans was taken over by Otis. In addition, the elevator division of General Electric Company in Hong Kong was taken over by Otis in 1999. After ExpressEvans was taken over, Otis Elevator Company has revived the ExpressEvans brand in both UK (ExpressEvans)[3] and Hong Kong (Express)[4][5] in which nowadays both companies are subsidiaries of Otis. The name ExpressEvans is also used in the new Gen2-based Express MRL elevator in the UK.[3] Also in 2003, EXPRESS Elevator Co., Ltd. was set up in Suzhou, China as a subsidiary of Otis and belongs to their subsidiary, Sigma[6].

National Lift Tower

The National Lift Tower (previously called The Express Lift Tower and known locally as the 'Northampton Lighthouse') is a lift testing tower built by the Express Lift Company located in Weedon Road in Northampton, England. The structure was commissioned in 1978 with construction commencing in 1980, and was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on November 12, 1982.

Elevator fixtures

Main article: Express Lifts Fixtures Guide

Notable installations

Main article: List of notable Express Lift elevator installations


  • In New Zealand, most Express Lift elevators are maintained by Schindler and have Schindler name plate (many have not been modernized by them, but they still have Schindler name plate).
  • Some Express Lift elevators are often labelled as GEC (General Electric Company) or GEC Express[7] and all of those brand are not appeared in the United Kingdom.
  • Express Lift also made their own escalators, but they are extremely rare. An example was found in The Arcade (Raffles Place), Singapore which was installed in 1981 and branded as GEC[8]. However, this has been completely replaced with new Schindler escalator in late 2016.
  • They also made escalators under partnership with Fiam, and branded as "Express Fiam"[9]
  • Express Lift was also a sole agent of Fiam elevators in Hong Kong and Singapore.
  • Express Lift once produce the DMR control system (Drag Magnet Regulator) elevator, which is similar to Westinghouse's "Select-o-Matic" elevator system, when both companies were under partnership since 1929.
  • Express Lift had a product licensing with the Australian-based Elevators Pty. Ltd. (or known as EPL KONE), therefore some older EPL KONE elevator machinery equipments are often have the Express Lifts brand badge.[10] In addition, Express Lift elevators in Australia were distributed by Elevators Pty. Ltd.
  • Express Lift also supplies elevators for the Housing and Development Board (HDB) public housing flats in Singapore in the mid-1990s as part of the Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) scheme. Before the LUP era, they also supplied a small number of elevators in the 1960s.


Logos and nameplates


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 Northamptonshire - A Sense Of Place - 360 degree panoramic image of the Northampton Lift Tower, BBC, December, 2003
  2. Smith, Major and Stevens
  3. 3.0 3.1 Otis is now using ExpressEvans name again!
  4. Express Traction Elevator at Front Wing, Montane Mansion, Quarry Bay, Hong Kong
  5. Nowadays, Express (Hong Kong) which is a distributor of Diebold Aufzüge (elevators) and Hyundai (escalators).
  6. Brand History - EXPRESS
  7. Express lift with GEC logo
  8. Video about a very rare GEC escalator in Singapore
  9. Express Fiam Escalator
  10. Express Lifts nameplate on EPL KONE machinery

See also

Express Lifts Fixtures Guide

External Links

Major elevator companies
DoverExpress LiftFujitecHitachiHyundaiKoneMitsubishi ElectricOtisSchindlerSigmaThyssenthyssenkruppToshiba
Full list: List of elevator and escalator companies
See also: Third-party elevator maintenance companies