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British Industrial History

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McMurdo Instrument Co

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January 1949.
March 1949.
September 1949.
December 1951. Moulded Valveholders.
December 1951. Moulded Valveholders.
June 1955. Microconnectors.

The name originated in the mid 1930's with an American, a Mr. McMurdo, who set up a company called McMurdo Silver, to make a very high quality radio receiver, chassis, all of which were plated in bright silver.

1938-39 The Company was acquired by Patrick David de Laszlo, a son of Philip de Laszlo, the famous court painter at the turn of the century. The Company was renamed as the McMurdo Instrument Co.

1939-45 There were three establishments in Surrey:

  • Leatherhead - where radio receivers, transmitters, instrument range finders were made, and early versions of VT fuzes for Anti-Aircraft shells were produced.
  • Ashtead - where fuzes for pompom guns and small shells, and valveholders were made, associated with Celestion Ltd.
  • Kingston - where loudspeakers for radios and light engineering devices were made, again in conjunction with Celestion.

Post WWII. The Kingston factory, then called Celestion, was sold to the Celestion-Rola speaker manufacturers and a separate company was formed - Micro Precision Products - to continue producing a range of photographic equipment, notably the Microcord, flex and technical/press cameras. The Leatherhead factory was closed and its work transferred to Ashtead. The Ashtead works continued to produce valveholders, and early connectors, in particular the Red Range and Dee Range connectors (still in production). The Company became major contractors for the Ministry of Defence developing VT fuzes for shells, and as a result innovators in the use of plastics of all types, electroncs, and electro chemical systems for batteries. Out of these endeavours sprang the present range of McMurdo products, particularly the Marine Safety products and the Fuze batteries.

1953 Construction of the Portsmouth factory started with the name Patomic Ltd., manufacturing valveholders and connectors initially. Associated with McMurdo in the same site later were Harwin's Ltd. (electronic component manufacturers) and Halmatic Ltd. (the glassfibre boat manufacturers), all owned by Mr. de Laszlo. At one time 3.4 million valveholders per week were made by about 950 people.

1963 Louis Newmark acquired certain assets of McMurdo Instrument Co, including use of the name McMurdo, to expand its range of electronic and precision instruments[1]

1963 Agreed to manufacture and sell the indium-bismuth batteries of Metachemical Processes[2]

1963-64 Harwin Ltd. and Halmatic Ltd. left the Portsmouth site, and the Ashtead works was closed, the activities from Ashtead being transferred to Portsmouth in the main. The fuze battery development went first to Croydon and later transferred on to Portsmouth. All McMurdo activities were then under one roof.

1983 The company specialised in Design, Development, and Production continues on the whole range of McMurdo products in the fields of Connectors, Marine Safety devices, Fuze batteries, etc., etc. with about 400 employees.

1980s H. R. W. Gover (Harry Gover), was the Principal Development Engineer at McMurdo's in the 1980s

1990 McMurdo Batteries was acquired by Kembrey from Louis Newmark[3]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Jan 18, 1963
  2. The Times Dec 16, 1963
  3. The Times October 02, 1990