Active from 1976 - 2024, over 40 years
Offer a range of lift solutions worldwide
Over 250 staff and 60 official dealers globally
All products comply to British Safety Standards
Manufactured in the town of Romsey, Hampshire
Services the lifts and stairlifts in over 12,000 properties across the UK
Works with over 25 councils and housing associations in the UK
Wessex are proud to have a rich history of lift innovation and manufacture! In 2016, we celebrated our 40 years of history, pulling together a full timeline of our lifts.
Times may have changed since our business was first conceived, but we've always kept the same core values and concepts in mind...
To provide and maintain accessibility equipment when a change in level impedes freedom of movement.
To be the global leader in the innovation, installation, and maintenance of accessibility equipment when it comes to value, reliability, and community.
Supporting our customers and doing our best to ensure their happiness
Striving for honesty with our customers and internally
Minimizing our footprint, especially around the office and on customers premises
Good to our staff, we're a proud local business
If something is wrong, we will make it right
We proudly celebrated our 40th birthday in 2016. Here is a summary of our company history...
In the early 1970's, Roger Warwick Smith saw a niche in the disabled market and he started making hoists.
1976 - His brother Michael, who had a disabled son, got involved in the business and 'Wessex Medical Equipment' became an established company.
By the end of the 70s the Wessex product range consisted of hoists, Enuresis Alarms, door openers, Stairlifts (Wessex Slimliner) and the original homelift (VS - Vertical Seat).
1982 - The medic bed was introduced.
1984 - The 'Vertical Seat' (VS) homelift had been developed to include a fully enclosed model as well as larger cars and a wheelchair version. The homelift used single wire rope traction drive system.
1988 - The first Liberty Lift (Open Car) was installed in Scarborough Sports Centre.
1989 - The 'Mountbatten Lift' was introduced. This was a commercial hydraulic passenger lift capable of carrying 5 people. The biggest Mountbatten Lift was installed in Braintree and spanned 8 floors.
The VS10 was launched. This was the company's first hydraulic lift and the first with a fire seal.
1990 - The Ratcliff Era began as John and Jean Ratcliff (The Ratcliff Group) bought Wessex, bringing their experience of the lifting industry from Ratcliff Tail Lifts whom they also own. Many older products were phased out including the Medic Bed, hoists, door openers and Stairlifts with focus concentrating on vertical lifts.
1991 - Wessex was selling the VS, which was a traction drive lift as well as the newer VL (Vertical Lift) which was hydraulic. At this time hydraulic was starting to catch on and was becoming more popular than traction drive systems. The first British Standard for the Homelift came also out - BS5900.
1994 - New depots were created in Manchester and Birmingham to help the expanding service and installation departments. This year also saw the SP Step Lift launched.
1995 - The first enclosed platform lift; the LE (Liberty Enclosed) was introduced.
1997 - In February 'The Home Lift' (VM - Vertical Modular) was launched. The first of these was installed in Birmingham.
The end of the 90s saw all traction driven lifts dropped in favour of hydraulic.
In the early 2000s Wessex started pushing export into Europe, starting with France building a strong distributor network.
2005 - The LM, Liberty modular was launched replacing the old LE.
2006 - The VM facelift model was released in order to meet new legislation.
2007 - Wessex Medical Equipment changed the name to Wessex Lift Co Ltd to show the changing focus to vertical lifts.
The first LR, Low Rise Platform Lift was also launched in 2007 to cater for both domestic and public access needs up to 1m rise.
2010 - The first Liberty 3 was installed. The L3 was the replacement for the LM lift. 2010 also saw the release of the Elesse at Naidex. The first of these was installed in California, USA.
2013 - At Naidex 2013 new LL (Liberty Lift) was launched. This new lift is superior to the old model because it is modular, cheaper to build, more robust as well as having a 5 year anti corrosion warranty. There was also a side access version released allowing more flexibility.
2014 - The latest product to be released is the VE (Vertical Enclosed) lift. The VE is designed to assist with new markets including North America as well as being attractive to the UK's private sector. The first of these was purchased in December 2014.
The current Wessex product range includes the VM Homelift, VE Enclosed Homelift, Elesse Enclosed Through Floor Lift, Liberty 3 Enclosed Platform Lift, Liberty Open, Platform Lift LR and the SP500 Step Lift. Today Wessex employs circa 150 people all over England including over 50 service and installation personnel. We also have a large distribution network covering much of the UK, Europe and North America.
Although times have changed our company has kept the same ideals of freedom in the home and the same belief that lifestyle can be changed through technology. Here's to the next 40 years of innovation!