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British Industrial History

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GEC: Lamps and Valves

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Nov 1919.
Dec 1921.
October 1936.
September 1937.
November 1937.
December 1939.
January 1944.
September 1947
August 1948.
January 1949.
March 1949.
June 1949.
July 1949.
September 1949.
December 1951. Valve Manual.
Feb 1957.
Hand-operated generating torch. Exhibit at Port Macquarie Museum.
November 1958.

Note: This is a sub-section of GEC

1892 After the Edison and Swan Lamp patents expired, GEC established a lamp factory - see Robertson Electric Lamps.

1905 Hugo Hirst learnt of the development of Tungsten filaments for lamps in Austria-Hungary, went to investigate and acquired rights [1].

1906/7 Hirst established a factory in U.K. to manufacture lamps, Osram Lamp Works, having offered one-third shares to the Austrian and German patent holders [2].

1908 Announcement of a reduction in price of Osram electric lamps; manufactured by Wolfram (Tungsten) Lamps Ltd; GEC had sole selling rights in U.K. and Colonies [3], importing Osram filaments from Germany[4].

1908 Displayed a hand lamp, developed to meet recommendations for improved safety of such lamps, at the Manchester Electrical Exhibition [5].

1909 Osram factory at Hammersmith completed; quality of the product said to be as good as that from the Continent.

1913 The Tungsten Lamp Association was formed by 4 companies, including GEC and BTH[6].

1915 Osram Lamp Works, Robertson Lamp Works and Lemington Glass Works were amalgamated by GEC[7].

1917 GEC was part owner of the Osram-Robertson Lamp Works Ltd and had managed the Works since opening. Purchased further shares in Osram-Robertson Lamp Works Ltd [8].

1919 GEC took over Osram, including the Osram-Robertson Lamp Works[9].

1919 Electrical Lamp Manufacturers Association was formed[10]. 6 other companies had joined and 7 others were non-associates[11].

1919 Marconi-Osram Valve Co formed as company owned jointly by GEC and Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Co; it took over GEC's valve factory[12].

1920 Name changed to M-O Valve Company[13].

1920 Jan. Physical and Optical Societies Exhibition. Exhibited wireless telegraphy.

1920 Board of Trade report into the "Electric Lamp Combine" recognised the Electrical Lamp Manufacturers Association was set up principally in the interests of BTH, GEC and Siemens Brothers and Co.

1925 Advertisement for Marconi Valves by the Marconiphone Co and GEC 'Made at the Osram factory'. [14]

1930 Extensive application of public lighting; development of photo-electric controls; development of lamps for cinema projectors[15].

1930 Established Claude-General Neon Lights

1931 Advert for new, improved valve filament for use in battery radios[16].

At some point Lamp Caps was a joint venture with AEI

1939 The company had made advances in discharge lamps for street lighting[17].

WWII The research laboratories developed and manufactured radar valves: first the VT58 valve used in anti-aircraft measures and then the VT90 used for aircraft interception and anti-surface vessel radar. Shorter wavelengths were needed for smaller, portable radio sets - the research laboratories produced 10 cm wavelengths using a magnetron but this was superseded by the cavity magnetron developed by J. T. Randall and H. A. H. Boot at the University of Birmingham, which allowed greater control over the wavelengths produced. The Wembley laboratories were given the task of improving the cavity magnetron design and producing sets for practical use.

1946 Glass Bulbs Ltd. was formed as a joint venture between GEC and BTH, which supplied the blown-glass envelopes used by M-O Valve Co and as well as other valve makers.

By 1953 Lumifax and Pope's Electric Lamp Co were subsidiaries

1956 GEC purchased EMI's share in the M-O Valve company.

1956/7. The contract for Manchester United’s floodlighting system at Old Trafford that was installed during the 1956/57 season was awarded to The General Electric Co. Parts of the contract were sub-contracted to W. H. Smith and Co and the floodlight towers were constructed by [[Thomas Storey (Engineers). The concrete bases for the towers were the responsibility of Wallwork.

1961 Glass Tubes and Components formed as a joint venture to take over the glass manufacture and sales activities of GEC at Lemington, and Wembley and the AEI Lamp and Lighting Co at Chesterfield but not including Glass Bulbs Ltd.[18]

1969 Formation of GEC Electronic Tubes to bring together M-O Valve Co and English Electric Valve Co, to form a company which would have half of UK valve production, the largest specialised valve manufacturer outside USA[19]. Later renamed EEV Ltd.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. History of GEC
  2. History of GEC
  3. The Times, 25 November 1908
  5. The Times, 28 October 1908
  6. A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 7: The City of Birmingham, W.B. Stephens (Editor), 1964
  7. History of GEC
  8. The Times, 18 July 1917
  9. The Times, Thursday, Jul 10, 1919
  10. A History of the County of Warwick: Volume 7: The City of Birmingham, W.B. Stephens (Editor), 1964
  11. The Times, 17 March 1920
  14. The Times, Monday, Feb 02, 1925
  15. The Times, 26 June 1930
  16. The Times, 21 September 1931
  17. The Times, 30 June 1939
  18. The Times, November 24, 1961
  19. The Times, 22 April 1969