Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 143,425 pages of information and 230,044 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Bowthorpe Electric Co

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December 1960.

of Crawley, Sussex

1936 The company was founded by Jack Bowthorpe as Goodlife Electrical Supplies.

1938 Hellermann Electric was founded in Croydon by Paul Hellermann and Jack Bowthorpe as a subsidiary of Goodlife.

1938 On repayment of the loan he had used to establish the business, he set up Bowthorpe Electric Ltd with the help of Park Trust Ltd (Lord Doverdale's family trust).

The business was operated from a garage in 8, Eagle Street, London, W.C.1., cutting up electrical wiring into standard lengths and selling it to the aircraft industry. One of the first to use coloured sleeving to identify cabling. Initially Ray Parsons was the sole employee; together they built the Company into one of the UK's largest electrical businesses.

1949 Changed its name to Bowthorpe Holdings.

1955 Public offer of shares in Bowthorpe Holdings[1]

1961 Manufacturers of overhead electric line equipment and fittings and accessories for high and low tension overhead transmission lines. Contractors to the Area Electricity Boards and Scottish Hydroboard.[2]

1962 Acquired EMP Electric[3]

1964 Merged the Dymo division with Dymo Industries of california and as a consequence acquired shares in Dymo Industries; acquired Insuloid of Manchester[4]

1970 After failing in a battle to acquire Falks, bought that company's Switchgear and Equipment subsidiary from the new owners; this was merged with Bowthorpe's business in similar technology[5]

1973 Sold the power equipment division, with factories at Bridgend and Banbury, to Brush Switchgear[6]. Acquired Hiatt and Co of Birmingham, cable accessory manufacturers[7], and Fellbridge Engineering of Susses[8]

1977 Moved Bowthorpe electric division from Crawley and EMP Electric from Tottenham to new factory in Brighton, with both forming a new unit Bowthorpe EMP[9]

1981 Acquired Devlin Electronics of Basingstoke, maker of keyboards[10]

1982 Acquired William McGeoch and Co of Glasgow[11]. Rights issue to raise funds to make acquisitions in the USA of high technology firms in a deliberate move to introduce new business areas into the company[12]

Acquired c.18 companies over 5 years; then needed a rights issue to pay for future expansion [13]

1987 Acquired Optima Electronics

1988 Major interest acquired in Cambridge Medical Group as a deliberate move into medical technology[14]. Had made seven acquisitions since the 1987 rights issue[15]

1990 It disposed of its defence businesses

1992 Acquired Penny and Giles, maker of aircraft "black boxes"[16]; this was Bowthorpe's largest ever acquisition

1994 Acquired Bohlin Instruments[17]

1996 The company started to move firmly into the telecom's equipment sector; its electronics business grew rapidly during the dot-com boom of the 1990s, with the 1997 purchase of businesses such as Adtech, a digital test equipment concern based in Hawaii.

The company was re-organised into 5 specific areas, including telecoms testing equipment.

1999 disposed of its automotive industry businesses; bought Netcom Systems, a US telecoms testing business, and DLS, a Canadian telecoms testing business.

2000 The telecoms testing business area accounted for 41 percent of operating profits[18]

2000 Name changed to Spirent Communications

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Jun 30, 1955
  2. * 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  3. The Times, Feb 03, 1962
  4. The Times, May 11, 1964
  5. The Times Sep 03, 1970
  6. The Times, Mar 29, 1973
  7. The Times, Jul 12, 1973
  8. The Times (London, England), Friday, Aug 24, 1973
  9. The Times May 09, 1977
  10. The Times, Nov 28, 1981
  11. The Times, Aug 19, 1982
  12. The Times Oct 06, 1982
  13. The Times, September 29, 1987
  14. The Times 22, 1988
  15. The Times, September 21, 1988
  16. The Times April 02, 1992
  17. The Times, September 22, 1994
  18. The Times, March 03, 2000