Globally renowned for its Britannia brand of automated washing systems for train, bus, coach and commercial vehicles

Smith Brothers & Webb is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year – and the future looks bright for the company which has led the field for decades in the design and manufacture of automated washing systems.
Orders have been pouring in to the UK based company for its Britannia brand of train, bus, coach and commercial vehicle washing machines which is renowned around the world for reliability, longevity and unsurpassed wash quality.
Customers as far afield as Harwich and Hong Kong have placed orders, with more than £2.5 million of new business coming in from overseas railway networks that are expanding to meet passenger demand.
It is an enviable position to be for the company based in Alcester, Warwickshire, which can trace its roots back to 1886 when William and Charles Smith set up a construction company that later diversified into engineering.
In the early 1920s the Smith family business was involved in the design and manufacture of washing systems, which initially were for the rail industry as trains were the principal means of long-distance travel at the time.
A Railway Carriage Washing Plant was built for the London and North West Railway in 1923 which is believed to be the first wash plant to operate in the UK.
But it was in 1944 when Smith Brothers & Webb was formed that the company laid the foundation of its future success by launching the Britannia brand. Soon Britannia automated washing machines were not only cleaning trains, but also buses, coaches and commercial vehicles.
Over the years as designs of vehicles and rolling stock evolved, Britannia moved with the times producing customised machines to suit customers’ particular requirements, forging a reputation for both engineering and service excellence which remains as strong today as it ever was.
Today Britannia is the foremost British brand of washing equipment for passenger carrying and commercial vehicles, trucks, municipal vehicles, minibuses, coaches, buses, trams and trains, synonymous with quality, efficiency and reliability.
Its Britannia Streamline washing system can wash up to 80 buses an hour, giving the quick turnaround required for modern fleet requirements, and each of its fully automatic Britannia train washing plants is built to the size and specification exactly required by customers.
Andy Barracliffe, Director of Britannia Washing Systems, said: “We are immensely proud of the world-wide fame of our Britannia washing systems and delighted that, 70 years on, our designs are more in demand than ever before.
“We have installations around the world – in Portugal, Turkey, Greece, Syria, Iran, Sri-Lanka, Hong Kong, China, India and Australia as well as in the UK and are in an ideal position to capitalise on the growth in the market-place.
“Our engineers have designed washing systems to cope with a wide variety of climates from hot, arid, desert conditions to humid, tropical weather systems so we can deliver our unsurpassed wash quality anywhere in the world.
“We are looking forward to many more successful years to come.”
The company has experienced an upsurge in orders, particularly from Europe and Asia where sizeable investments are being made in railway systems. In the UK the launch of new vehicles, such as the iconic Routemaster “Boris Bus” in London, has also boosted the order book.
Recent innovations include Britannia’s unique “airline-style” Controlled Emissions Toilet system that can clean out the effluent tanks on a train three times faster than conventional machines – it can empty tanks on a 12-carriage high-speed train in just 10 minutes.
Orders are also increasing for Britannia’s water recycling systems that can reduce the cost of vehicle washing by up to 80% - their popularity also being boosted by the fact that investment in them is 100% tax deductible.
All of the Britannia range is designed and manufactured by at Smith Brothers & Webb’s base in Alcester, Warwickshire, to which the company relocated in 1969. A team of highly-skilled engineers is on hand to carry out maintenance and repair under Britannia’s range of service contracts.

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