Smith, Major & Stevens, or SMS Lifts was a British lift/elevator manufacturer that existed from 1770 until 1930. SMS made electric, hydraulic, hand powered and belt driven elevators. It was one of the three predecessors of The Express Lift Co. Ltd. of Northampton, England; the other two were General Electric Company (GEC) and Easton Lift Company - though these two companies were the ones that led to the foundation of Express Lift.


Smith, Major & Stevens had begun in 1770 as a small engineering firm at 69 Princess Street in Leicester Square, London. In 1878, Archibald Smith & Co. was founded as a hydraulic and general engineering company based in Leicester Square, London. The company was renamed to Archibald Smith and Stevens in 1880 and at the same year the company opened their Janus Works in Battersea, London. Archibald Smith and Stevens started producing hand powered, belt driven and hydraulic elevators. By 1880, the company had produced 400 hand operated elevators, 126 hydraulic elevators, and 26 belt driven elevators.

In 1909, Charles George Major joined Archibald Smith & Stevens and the company was renamed to Smith, Major & Stevens. SMS relocated their factory from Battersea, London to Northampton in Northamptonshire.

Smith, Major & Stevens merged with Express Lift in 1930. Express Lift had proposed a merger between SMS and Waygood Otis in 1928, and in the end it was SMS that agreed to merge with the company.


SMS had offices in Northampton and London, as well as branches in Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff, Southampton, Newcastle-on-Tyne, Ipswich, and Glasgow, Scotland.

The old factory, Janus Works, was originally located in Bridge Road in Battersea, London. When the company became Smith, Major and Stevens in 1909, the old Janus Works was closed and moved to a new premise in Northampton, where the factory would be used by The Express Lift Co. Ltd. until its closure in the late 1990s. The new factory was known as Abbey Works.

Overseas agencies

Smith, Major & Stevens had third-party agents or distributors located in several countries, some of these were:

Company name Country(s)
Bombay Elec. Co. Ltd. India
Brown & Co. Sri Lanka
H. Moult New Zealand
Hausmann Bros. Netherlands
Hume Hermanos Argentina and Uruguay
Jessop & Co. Ltd. India
Major, Stevens & Coates Co. Sydney, Australia
Morrison & Co. Chile
Myslis & Horsfall Perth, Australia
Newton & McLaren Adelaide, Australia
S. McLaughlan & Cie. Brazil
Scott Harding & Co. British Hong Kong
Shanghai, China
Stewart Raeburn & Co. Myanmar
United Engineers Ltd. Singapore
W. Bain & Co. (S.A.) Ltd. South Africa

Notable installations

  • Hampshire House, Bournemouth, United Kingdom
  • Giffords Building, Auckland, New Zealand
  • Vulcans Building, Auckland, New Zealand (modernized by Kone in the 1990s)
  • Blacketts Building, Auckland, New Zealand (modernized by Kone)
  • Durie Hill Elevator, Whanganui, New Zealand (1919, installed by H. Moult)
  • 5 Kadayanallur Street, Singapore (1929)[1]


  • Some old Express Lift installations would often carry the name SMS Lifts on their brand badge. In this case, the elevators are branded as "Express SMS Lifts".


Notes and references

  1. Story of a Lift Nearing 90 - The Straits Times

External links

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