Victorian beginnings

This story of British independent business success demonstrates resilience to market forces and a determination to succeed, combined with a work ethic passed down through successive generations.

Joseph Stannah founded his lift company in London in 1867. He first made his name making hoists and cranes for London’s dockyards. This was the days of the industrial revolution and Victorian engineering changed the face of Britain – and the world. These were exciting times for engineers and architects alike with much to be inspired by:

  • In 1860 the first passenger lift in London was installed in the Grosvenor Hotel for the benefit of the privileged classes.
  • In 1863 The world’s first underground rail service, London’s Metropolitan Railway, was opened.
  • In 1867 the foundation stone of the iconic Royal Albert Hall was laid by Queen Victoria. The building was designed by architect Francis Fowke.
  • In 1867 the famous Paris Expo displayed ‘the world’s first working hydraulic lift’.

Albert Stannah developed the company’s product range and marketing and design. An early advertisement appeared in the Builder magazine in the 1880s.

Lt. Commander Leslie Stannah returned from WW2 service to find the Stannah factory was destroyed, along with so many businesses in London at that time. With no workforce, drawings or components available to him Leslie rebuilt the business from scratch using his reputable family name. The factory was rebuilt in 1945, and with the government of the day’s help, Leslie manufactured passenger lifts, even exporting some to Palestine and Ceylon.

Brothers, Brian and Alan Stannah, current joint chairmen, extended the Stannah product range. Turbulent political times in the 1970s with the 3-day week and miners strikes led Brian and Alan to look for product diversification to supplement the downtime of the lift factory. The Stannah Stairlift was born.

When asked, what reaching this milestone means to the Stannah family, Jon Stannah, Group Managing Director and descendant of Joseph Stannah said:

“It means a great deal. Family is all about generations, the legacy left behind and the future generations that will continue to grow the business. We are very lucky to know the history of our company – this celebration is not just about the Stannah family, but also about the wider family that is the Stannah corporation.”

To date Stannah has installed over 45,000 lifts, 600,000 stairlifts and look after over 91,000 lift products from all manufacturers right across the UK. The Stannah Group has an ever-growing commercial portfolio of products and services in the UK including escalators, moving walkways passenger lifts, platform lifts, service lifts, goods lifts, homelifts, stairlifts, bespoke lifts built to client specification, loading systems – equipment for loading bays and local lift servicing, nationwide from eleven service branches across the UK. Stannah major infrastructure project capability – recent projects include Leeds Station, Edinburgh Waverley and Edinburgh Haymarket Stations, Reading Station, Nottingham Hub, Birmingham New Street, the Poplar Link Enhancement Project that links Docklands Light Railway with CrossRail network and Luton Airport regeneration project.

The heartbeat of the company and the main contributor to its success is the hard work and loyalty of its staff, that currently numbers more than 2000.

To read the company’s fascinating timeline go to