The Express Lift Company was the elevator (lift) division of General Electric Company plc (GEC), based in Northampton, England. When existing, it was one of the UK's largest non-foreign-owned lift manufacturers. It was acquired by Otis in 1997.[1]


GEC logo

The General Electric Company (GEC) logo

The Express Lift Company was formed in 1917 as a merger between Easton Lift Company and The General Electric Company (GEC). In the 1920s, the company began using Ward Leonard equipment under license from Westinghouse. In 1930, Smith, Major & Stevens merged with Express Lift[2] and productions moved to the Abbey Works in Northampton.

The company installed its first escalator in 1932 at the Earl Court Exhibition Centre in London. The escalator was based on Westinghouse's design.

In 1950, Express Lift expanded its business to South Africa by acquiring local company Premier Lift Company.

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. Also in 1978, Express Lift launched its first group control elevator system with microprocessors.

In 1995, Express Lift merged with Leicester-based Evans Lifts 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: List of Express (United Kingdom) elevator fixtures

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).
  • A few 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 these 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.
  • Express Lift was also the sole agent of Fiam elevators in Hong Kong and Singapore.
  • Express also made escalators under partnership with Fiam, and branded as "Express Fiam".[9] Express had installed Fiam elevators mainly in Singapore and Hong Kong, and this relationship may have led to Express making escalators with Fiam.
  • Express Lift also made DMR control system (DMR stands for Drag Magnet Regulator), a programmed elevator system for high-rise buildings based on Westinghouse's "Select-o-Matic" elevator system in the United States. The DMR elevators were developed under partnership with Westinghouse.
  • Express Lift also 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 supplied elevators for the Housing and Development Board (HDB) public housing flats in Singapore in the mid-1990s, probably as part of HDB's Main Upgrading Programme (MUP). Before the that, they also supplied a small number of elevators in the 1960s, mainly in blocks built in Toa Payoh where almost all of them were replaced by Fujitec in the 1980s and 1990s.


Logos and nameplates


Notes and references

External links

Major elevator and escalator companies
Full list of companies List of elevator and escalator companies
Operating FujitecHitachiHyundaiKoneMitsubishi Electric (Shanghai Mitsubishi) • Otis (Otis ElectricSigma) • SchindlerthyssenkruppToshiba
Defunct Dover ElevatorsExpress LiftOrenstein & KoppelThyssenWestinghouse
Other companies Third-party elevator maintenance companies
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