Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,152 pages of information and 245,599 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Elliott Brothers

From Graces Guide
(1833-1849) Elliott Theodolite Detail.
(1833-1849) Elliott Theodolite.
1869. Distance measuring telescope.
Elliott Bros 0-0.6" micrometer
February 1904. Motormeter.
September 1908. Speedometer.
June 1909.
October 1909.
November 1909.
July 1910.
November 1919.
Telescope (detail).
1931. Multipen Recorder. The title may say Elliott's Metal Co but this seems much more likely to be an Elliott Brothers product
August 1933.
1933. Bin Level Indicator.
1933. Optical Direct-Reading Pyrometer.
1933. Programme Transmitter.
1935. Wind speed and direction indicator.
1937. Thermomoeters.
1937. Fuel Level Indicator.
1942. Optical pyrometer.
1942. Low pressure transmitter.
October 1952.
May 1957.
February 1959. Industrial Weighing Division.
June 1959.
1947. Exhibit at the Museu de Electricidade, Madeira
Lord's calculator. Exhibit at the Grassington Folk Museum.
March 1957.
1960s. Century Standard Set.
1960s. Century Standard Set.
1960s. Century Standard Set.
1960s. Century Standard Set.

of 449 Strand, later of Century Works, Lewisham, London, SE

See also Elliott Brothers: Micrometers

Elliott Brothers (London) Ltd was a long established electrical instruments company which played an early role in the development of computers in the United Kingdom,

1804 William Elliott completed his apprenticeship and became free in the Coach and Coach Harness Makers Company.

1804 Elliott took his first apprentice, and married in the same year.

1817 William Elliott: Drawing instrument maker, 26 Wilderness Row, Goswell Street, London.

1817–27 at 21 Great Newport Street, London.

1824 Mention as 'Mr. Elliott's, Optician, 21, Great Newport-street, St. Martin's-lane.'[1]

1827-33 at 227 High Holborn, London

1833-49 at 268 High Holborn, London

1835 Mention as 'Mr. Elliott's, No. 268, High Holborn'[2]

1850 Moved to 56, Strand, London

c1850 William took his sons, Frederick Henry Elliott, and Charles Alfred Elliott into partnership. The company began to manufacture instruments for surveying, for railways, and other instruments

1853 Advertisement. Stringfellow's Patent Electro-Galvanic Pocket Battery. For personal medical use. Sole agents. W. Elliott and Sons, 56 Strand.[3]

1853 William Elliott died; his sons continued the business as Elliott Brothers. [4]

1854 Advertisement. Stringfellow's Patent Electro-Galvanic Pocket Battery. Elliott Brothers, 56 Strand.[5]

1857 Took over the business of Watkins and Hill, Instrument Makers. The company began advertising electrical apparatus.

1858 May. 'Messrs. Mansell and Elliott are instructed by Messrs. Elliott Brothers successors to Messrs. Watkins and Hill, who are removing to their new premises in the Strand, to Sell.....The Lease of the Excellent and Commanding Shop and Business Premises, No. 5, Charing-cross, consisting of a handsome double fronted shop with counting-house and workshops in the rear...'[6]

1859 Patent. '2787. To Frederick Henry Elliott and Charles Alfred Elliott, of the Strand, in the city of Westminster, Mathematical Instrument Makers, for the invention of "an improved method of preventing drawing boards and other flat wooden surfaces from warping or twisting, and of adding to the strength thereof."'[7]

1860 Patent. '2631. To Frederick Henry Elliott, of the Strand, in the county of Middlesex, Mathematical Instrument Maker, for the invention of "an improved case for aneroid barometers for marine purposes."'[8]

1867 Exhibited at the 1867 Paris Exhibition. 'Elliott, Brothers, 449, Strand, London.— Mathematical, optical, and philosophical instruments.'[9]

1868 Patent. '889. To Frederick Henry Elliott and Charles Alfred Elliott, of the Strand, in the county of Middlesex, Opticians, for the invention of "improvements in telescopes."— A communication to them from abroad by Pierre Gabriel Bardou and Denis Albert Bardou, both of Paris, France.'[10]

1870 Partnership dissolved. '...the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned, Frederick Henry Elliott, and Charles Alfred Elliott, as Opticians, at No 449, Strand, in the county of Middlesex, under the style or firm of Elliott Brothers, has been this day dissolved by mutual consent...'[11] Charles Alfred Elliott leaves the partnership.

1871 Employing 150 men under Frederick Henry Elliott.[12] Note: From other sources this figure for the number employed looks rather high.

1873 Mention of 'a workshop, manufactory, or building in the occupation of Messrs. Elliott Brothers, Opticians.'[13]

1875 "Conversaziones" of the Society of Telegraph Engineers - Exhibitors in:[14]

  • 130. Condenser. 1 Microfarad capacity as designed by Major Malcolm, R.E, subdivided into 12 parts, to measure from 0.001 to 0.5.
  • 131. Small Condenser, as designed by Major Malcolm, R.E., 0.1 microfarad capacity, subdivided into 4 parts, from 0.01 to 0.05.
  • 132. Electrometer. A modification of Sir William Thomson’s Quadrant Electrometer.
  • 133. Replenisher. For use with quadrant electrometer.
  • 134. Platinum-Silver Resistance Coils, as designed by Major Mallock for use in India.
  • 135. Hearson’s Patent Strophometer, for showing the number of revolutions per minute of machinery on a dial, and also registering the same on a strip of paper. Used also for applying to the paying-out gear of a cable-ship.
  • 136. Small-sized Strophometer.

1876 "Conversaziones" of the Society of Telegraph Engineers - " Near the entrance was a fine collection of instruments for the measurement of electrical resistances constructed by Messrs. Elliott Brothers, exhibiting all the scientific accuracy and beauty of workmanship for which that firm has so great a name, and to which the late Mr. Becker so largely contributed."[15]

1876 Established a works in St. Martin's Lane to produce telegraphic equipment

1877 Frederick Henry Elliott dies and his wife Susan continues the business bringing in Willoughby Smith, the leading telegraph engineer, as a partner

1880 Susan Elliott died and control passed to Willoughby Smith. This was the end of the Elliott family connection with the business. Smith placed his son William Oliver Smith to run the business and another son Willoughby Statham Smith as a manager in the company

1881 Won a gold medal at the 1881 Paris Electrical Exhibition

1884 of 449 Strand, London

1889 Produced 'an improved indication piston'. Company described as 'the well-known opticians'. [16]

1892 Shown as trading at 101 and 102 St. Martin's Lane in the estate documents of Willoughby Smith.[17]

1893 Elliott Brothers amalgamated with Meinrad Theiler and Sons then owned by G. K. B. Elphinstone. W. O. Smith became managing director and Elphinstone as chairman and proprietor

1894 Electric Signals for Warships under the patent of Willis and Robinson. Article in 'The Engineer'

1900 The company moved to new premises: Century Works, Connington Road, Lewisham. Company was producing telegraphy, electrical, engineering, surveying, drawing, meteorological, marine, and other instruments. Employing around 200-300 persons at this time.

1902 Warrant to use the Royal Arms. Elliott Brothers of London - Opticians.[18]

1903 Issued a catalogue of alternating-current instruments.[19]

1909 H. E. Wimperis introduces an accelerometer to the company

1912 Company began supplying flight instrument panels and aircraft instrument to the War Office and others.

1914 Electrical and mechanical engineers. Specialities: ships' logs, gyro-compasses for use on battleships, Wimperis accelerometers and gradometers, all kinds of speed indicators, recorders and switchboard instruments, telegraph apparatus etc. Employees 400 to 500. [20]

1917 Became Elliott Brothers (London) Ltd

1920 Jan. Physical and Optical Societies Exhibition. Exhibitor of electrical instruments. [21]

1925 The company was an associate of Siemens Brothers and Co, which transferred its telegraph section to the company, in order to concentrate the activity under one management[22]

1937 Electrical and mechanical instrument makers. [23]

Post WWII The number of employees at Lewisham reduced about 4000 to under 1000.

1946 Due to the company’s long-standing provision of analogue computers for naval fire control, the Admiralty decided to set up an Elliott Research Laboratory in a redundant fuse factory at Borehamwood, tasked with developing an innovative ship-borne anti-aircraft gunnery predictor. The head of the laboratory was John Coales. The Admiralty contract stipulated that the project was to be digital rather than analogue (a far sighted decision).[24]

1946 Elliott Brothers and B. and P. Swift were allocated space in the Shorts' factory at Rochester. Elliotts would employ about 500 on all types of electrical and mechanical precision instruments. Swifts will employ about 450 on automatic scales, gears and hydraulic pumps.[25].

1947 The company merged with the weighing machine manufacturers B. and P. Swift; Leon Bagrit, the founder of B and P Swift, became joint managing director of Elliott Bros.

1949 Arranged a licencing deal with Fisher Governor Co of Iowa which would help to remedy gaps in expertise left by the war[26]

1950s the research laboratories at Borehamwood consisted of seven divisions, two of which were developing digital hardware - Computing, and Circuits. In addition there was a small Theory Group.

1950 The first Elliott real time computer, the 152, was put into operation; this was intended to be the Admiralty's anti-aircraft gunnery predictor.

1951 NRDC gave Elliott Bros a study contract to consider whether their constructional technique could be applied to something like a re-engineered version of the Manchester University computer. Eventually this led to a proposal for the development of a packaged computer. NRDC agreed to pay for the development and construction of a prototype - which became the 401[27] - a small, reliable digital computer that would complement the much larger Ferranti Mark I machine.

1952 The prototype 401 computer was sent to Cambridge and then to Rothamstead.

1952 Members of the Theory Group conceived a general purpose stored program computer to meet the requirements of an RAE computing project; the machine was later called Nicholas. This played a significant part in the design thinking behind Ferranti's Pegasus computer[28]. Several digital computers, as well as process controllers, were developed at Borehamwood, as well as several analogue computers.

1953 (or 1951) The Aviation Division was formed at Borehamwood; this formed the basis for Elliott Aviation and Elliott Flight Automation.[29]

1953 After a difficult few years post-war, whilst the company was being redirected from armaments work to civilian products, Elliott Brothers had made profits in 1951 and 1952. It now took the opportunity to raise funds for investment with the issue of new shares. It was noted that Bendix Aviation Corporation had recently subscribed for shares at twice the par value.[30].

1954 Elliott Brothers acquired Bristol's Instrument Co to strengthen its process control activities[31]

1956 Elliotts entered into a marketing arrangement with the National Cash Register Co, whereby NCR supplied the 405 computer to commercial data processing customers and provided relevant applications programming and software support.

1956 Acquired Associated Insulation Products which had a large amount of cash that was used by Elliotts[32]

1957 Elliott Automation issued shares to the shareholders of Elliott Brothers and Associated Automation to effect a merger of the 2 companies, forming 'the largest automation and instrumentation company in Europe'. Elliott Brothers continued to exist as a subsidiary company of the Elliott Automation Group.[33]. Leon Bagrit became deputy chairman and managing director.

The 800 series digital computers, based on transistor circuits and ferrite cores, marked Elliott’s entry into non-defence computer applications. An 803 was used at the Calder Hall atomic power station project for logging and alarm-scanning system; 17 803s were exported to America for on-line industrial process control; others were used for industrial process control.

1958 Associated Insulation Products subsidiary sold to Associated Electrical Industries (AEI).

1959 Elliott Nucleonics formed as subsidiary company.

1960 Bendix Corporation sold its remaining shareholding in Elliott Automation

1960 The computer scientist, Sir Tony Hoare, was an employee from August 1960 for 8 years. He wrote an ALGOL 60 compiler for the Elliott 803 and also worked on an operating system (Elliott 503 Mark II), although this was less successful and abandoned along with "over thirty man-years of programming effort."

1961 Electrical and mechanical engineers, manufacturing fire control apparatus, precision and electronic equipment for H.M. Ships and instruments and equipment for aircraft. Commercial products include measuring and control instruments, control valves weighing and food preparing machinery and hydraulic pumps. 5,500 employees. [34]

1961 Firth Cleveland Instruments was purchased by Elliott Automation; business would continue from the same site under the name Elliott (Treforest).

1962 Leon Bagrit knighted.

1963 John Lansdown pioneered the use of computers as an aid to planning; making perspective drawings on an Elliott 803 computer, modelling a building's lifts and services, plotting the annual fall of daylight across its site, as well as authoring his own computer aided design applications.

1964 Two new management divisions formed - Mechanical Automation and Elliott-Automation Nucleonics - bringing the total to 14 business divisions in the Group.

Late 1960s: Elliott’s aerospace activity had largely moved to its Rochester factory. Innovative aerospace R&D grew rapidly at Rochester, with products such as head-up displays making an international impact.

1967 In the first deal arranged by the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation, English Electric Co took over Elliott Automation to form the leading European group in computing and process control.

1968 Supplied plug stringers for the Winfrith power station. [35]

1968 English Electric Computers Ltd was taken over by International Computers and Tabulators (ICT); this marriage was forced by the British Government, who believed that the UK required a strong national computer company. The combined company was called International Computers Ltd (ICL). English Electric Co retained the military and industrial automation activities of its Marconi and Elliott Automation subsidiaries.[36].

1968 GEC took over English Electric Co

1969 GEC reorganised the businesses it had acquired from Elliott Automation, English Electric Co, AEI and Marconi. In electronics, GEC-Marconi Electronics was created with 4 subsidiaries Marconi-Elliott Avionics Systems Limited, GEC-Elliott Space and Weapons Systems, Marconi Communications Systems and Marconi Radar Systems.[37]. GEC-Elliott Automation comprised the automation and control activities of the predecessor companies.[38].

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Morning Post - Monday 29 March 1824
  2. Morning Post - Friday 10 April 1835
  3. Morning Post - Tuesday 19 April 1853
  4. Abstract of Records held at Lewisham Local Studies and Archives, displayed at National Archives
  5. London Daily News - Saturday 13 May 1854
  6. Morning Post - Tuesday 18 May 1858
  7. [1] Gazette Issue 22339 published on the 23 December 1859. Page 7 of 36
  8. [2] Gazette Issue 22445 published on the 9 November 1860. Page 26 of 48
  9. [3] Gazette Issue 23174 published on the 19 October 1866. Page 15 of 64
  10. [4] Gazette Issue 23379 published on the 15 May 1868. Page 68 of 124
  11. [5] Gazette Issue 23637 published on the 26 July 1870. Page 17 of 40
  12. 1871 Census
  13. [6] Gazette Issue 24036 published on the 18 November 1873. Page 25 of 92
  16. The Engineer 1889/05/03 1889 p383
  17. [7] Gazette Issue 26241 published on the 5 January 1892. Page 25 of 68
  18. [8] Gazette Issue 27512 published on the 2 January 1903. Page 13 of 104
  19. The Engineer 1903/05/29, p 558
  20. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  21. The Engineer of 16th Jan 1920 p62
  22. The Times, Jun 01, 1926
  23. 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
  24. Elliott Computers by Simon Lavington [9]
  25. The Times, 4 October 1946
  26. The Times May 31, 1963
  27. Memories of NRDC [10]
  28. Nicholas, the Forgotten Elliott Project, by Ed Hersom. [11]
  29. The Times Sept. 10, 2004
  30. The Times, 11 May 1953
  31. Moving Targets: Elliott-Automation and the Dawn of the Computer Age, by Simon Lavington, 2011
  32. The Times, Jun 05, 1958
  33. The Times, 8 October 1957
  34. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  35. The Engineer 1968/03/08 p399
  36. The Times, 22 March 1968
  37. The Times, 8 August 1969
  38. The Times, 27 November 1969
  • [12] Wikipedia
  • Mosquito by C. Martin Sharp and Michael J. F. Bowyer. Published by Crecy Books in 1995. ISBN 0-947554-41-6
  • AA. [13] Image courtesy of Aviation Ancestry
  • Records held at Lewisham Local Studies and Archives; abstract from National Archives [14]
  • The Engineer of 30th March 1894 p270