Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,128 pages of information and 245,598 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.

Thorn Electrical Industries

From Graces Guide
September 1953. Ferguson.
'Maryann' Two Way Electric Vacuum Cleaner.

of 105-109 Judd Street, London, WC1. Telephone: Euston 1183. Cables: "Eleclampo Kincross, London"

of Atlas Works, Edmonton, and of Enfield.

1924 Company founded (according to DnB) as Electric Lamp Service Company, dealer in electrical and radio goods, by Jules Thorn

1928 Incorporated as a company in March as The Electric Lamp Service Company to take over the business and assets of a company of similar name.

1931 Thorn opened his first shop renting radios

1932 Jules Thorn acquired a controlling interest in Chorlton Metal Co Ltd, established in 1926, dealer in electric lamps and radio goods[1].

1933 Began making Atlas light bulbs in Edmonton, north London.

1933 Jules Thorn and L. M. Glancy formed Lotus Radio Co to acquire the Lotus Co to carry on the business of manufacture of radio receivers[2].

1936 Acquired Ferguson Radio Corporation

1936 Company became public and the name changed to Thorn Electrical Industries Ltd; incorporated The Electric Lamp Service Company and Chorlton Metal Co and Lotus Radio Co including acquiring the outstanding interests in those companies. The lamp manufacturing part of the company grew rapidly to become Thorn Lighting, one of the world’s largest producers of lamps, luminaires and lighting components. Capacity for manufacturing cathode ray tubes.

1936 The company later began to diversify. Alfred Deutsch CBE, who was instrumental in the founding of Thorn, used to recall how he bicycled around London selling radio parts from a basket on the back of his bike.

1937 Thorn Electrical Industries had the sole distributor rights for Ferguson radio receivers[3].

1938 Acquired British Electric Domestic Appliances which made Mary Ann vacuum cleaners and Bedal washing machines[4].

1939 Formation of DER, a small subsidiary to enable Thorn to enter the television business. Post-war this became the television rental arm of Thorn.

1946 Rights issue to finance the acquisition from the chairman of the entire share capital of Ferguson Radio Corporation[5]. First Ferguson television produced.

1947 Developed fluorescent lamps and fittings; lamp factory moved to Enfield; new plant in South Wales[6].

1947 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of "Atlas" Electric Lamps, Incandescent and Fluorescent, "Atlas" Lighting Fittings, "Ferguson" Radio Receivers, "Mary Ann" Electric Domestic Appliances. (Olympia, Ground Floor, Stand No. C.1528) [7]

1948 Technical exchange agreement with Sylvania which was issued some shares[8].

1948 2400 employees; share issue to finance development and expansion in lighting products[9]. Subsidiaries were Ferguson Radio Corporation, Lamp Presscaps Ltd, Domestic Electric Rentals Ltd, British Electric Domestic Appliances (1938) Ltd, as well as South African interests.

1949 Introduced television sets[10].

1950 In a move to concentrate electric lamp production, Thorn Electrical Industries acquired 51% of Ekco-Ensign Electric; lamp production at Ekco's Southend factory ceased but their Preston factory was expanded[11]. The sales organisations of the 2 companies continued to be separate.

1951 Acquired Tricity Cookers; the start of a move into a new and booming field of domestic electrical appliances.

1953 Manufacturer of TV sets [12]

1955 Announced intention to manufacture television tubes on a large scale in conjunction with Sylvania Electrical Products of USA[13].

1956 Opening of Sylvania-Thorn Colour TV Laboratories[14]

1957 Took over the manufacture of the HMV and Marconiphone range of consumer products from EMI[15]. The 2 companies would jointly own the British Radio Corporation[16].

1959 Thorn acquired an interest in Multi-Signals Ltd, a company which established relay systems in six towns

1959 Deal with Philco of US on making radios and televisions using Philco's technology[17] including the Philco business in the UK and the factory at Chigwell.

1959 Thorn sold the controlling interest in Tricity Finance, its hire purchase subsidiary, to Lombard Banking[18].

1960 Acquired Brimar cathode ray tubes and valve business from STC; Brimar Electronics formed to allow Thorn's scientists and engineers the opportunity for developing some of their ideas[19].

1961 Purchased Ultra Radio and Television Ltd[20] which consolidated Thorn's position as a leading manufacturer of radio and televisions.

1961 Had 35 subsidiary and associated companies. 15,000 group employees.

1961 Formed a joint venture with AEI to merge the 2 companies' interests in manufacture and sale of valves and cathode ray tubes[21] - Thorn-AEI Radio Valves and Tubes

1961 Tucana Ltd was formed as a subsidiary of Thorn to take over retail shops where the owners were retiring or the shops were threatened by bankruptcy or liquidation.

1962 Orders had been received from 55 airfields for the visual approach slope landing indicator system developed by Thorn under licence from Royal Aircraft Establishment[22].

1963 The newly-formed Thorn Electronics, which served various specialised markets including TV studios and metallurgy, had rationalised its activities with production concentrated at the Nash and Thompson factory[23].

1964 Formed joint venture Thorn Parsons Ltd with C. A. Parsons and Co to exploit new products from fundamental research by the 2 companies[24].

1964 Lighting was an important business for the company but there was need for increased scale to compete internationally, and to handle new technologies such as production of fluorescent tubes, so merged the company's lighting interests with those of AEI - the new venture was called British Lighting Industries in which Thorn had a controlling interest[25], one of the largest lighting groups in Europe.[26]

1964 Multi-Signals became a wholly owned subsidiary of Thorn.[27]

1965 Thorn took over Glover and Main, gas appliance manufacturers.

1967 Joint Venture with Bendix, Thorn-Bendix, of their specialised electronics interests, including Thorn Electronics, Thorn Special Products, Thorn Electronics Laboratories, Bendix Electronics and M. P. J. Gauge and Tool Co; this included around half of the Thorn's R&D activity[28].

1967 Acquired Moffats, Canadian maker of gas and electric cookers; Moffat products would be made at Spennymoor[29]

1967 Acquired Metal Industries after a contentious battle with Aberdare Holdings[30]. This was said to be to ensure supplies of sheet metal, essential to the production of cookers, but was the start of a diversification into engineering. This acquisition included Lancashire Dynamo Electronic Products which was later renamed Thorn Automation[31]. At the same time the bid was announced, AEI bid separately for one part of Metal Industries, Lancashire Dynamo and Crypto[32].

1967 Acquired AEI's minority interests in British Lighting Industries[33]

1968 Thorn Electrical Industries acquired K. M. T. (Holdings), and Tucana, a private retailer of television sets[34].

1968 Acquired Keyswitch Relays.[35]

1968 Many of the television sets rented through DER were made by Thorn in the summer months when other orders were not available. Tucana had 206 retail shops. Multi-Broadcast had 87 outlets in London, the Home Counties, and the Midlands.

1968 Competition Commission report on the proposed merger between Thorn Electrical Industries Ltd and Radio Rentals Ltd. Thorn took over Radio Rentals and merged their radio/television activities.

1968 Acquired Kenwood, manufacturer of food mixers

1968 Acquired Triangle as part of the acquisition of K. M. T. (Holdings), and amalgamated it with Crypton Equipment to form Crypton Triangle[36].

1969 Acquired William Sugg and Co, central heating company. Later acquired International Janitor from its 2 owners who could not provide sufficient support for its central heating developments[37]

1970 Sold Crypton Triangle to Tube Investments[38].

1971 The Thorn group's principal activities were: Radio and Television, Lighting, Domestic Appliances, Engineering, as well as a number of other companies[39].

1971 Acquired Parkinson Cowan range of gas cookers and meters. Thorn had also invested £1,250,000 in the lighting laboratories at Enfield.

1971 George Kent sold Evershed and Vignoles to Thorn Electrical Industries[40]; the senior members of the board resigned and were replaced by directors of Avo and Taylor Electrical Instruments[41]. Also owned Record Electrical Co[42].

Formed Thorn-Ericsson Telecommunications

1974 Acquired Clarkson International Tools

1974 Thorn dropped various brand names as the consolidated (but brand name-heavy) industry fought against the very strong Japanese imports.

1975 Attempted to acquire Sheffield Twist Drill and Steel Co to protect its investment in Clarkson but in the end pulled out of the contest.

1975 Further expansion in consumer appliances on purchase of J. and F. Stores

1976 Acquired Cleveland Twist Drill.

1976 Acquired Oliver Pell Control.[43]

1976 Telerection Products Ltd changed its name to Kenwey Domestic Appliances Ltd[44]

1976 Sir Jules Thorn retired.

1978 Thorn Television Rentals was one of 6 television rental companies examined by the Price Commission; it was one of 2 companies singled out as having a high degree of profitability and subject of a recommendation for a price freeze. The company traded under the names: Radio Rentals, Domestic Electric Rentals (DER) and Multibroadcast. Another company considered was also owned by Thorn Electrical Industries, namely Rumbelows[45]

1979 In October, Thorn Electrical Industries merged with EMI to form Thorn EMI.

1985 Kenwey Domestic Appliances Ltd changed its name to Thorn EMI Small Domestic Appliances Ltd[46]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 16 December 1936
  2. The Times, 16 December 1936
  3. The Times, 29 July 1937
  4. The Times, 28 July 1938
  5. The Times, 16 July 1946
  6. The Times, 17 Septemeber 1947
  7. 1947 British Industries Fair p275
  8. The Times, 21 February 1948
  9. The Times, 8 March 1948
  10. The Times, 19 September 1949
  11. The Times, 31 July 1950
  12. Choosing your Television Set. Published by Freelance in 1953.
  14. The Times, 1 October 1956
  15. The Times, 17 September 1957
  16. The Times, 2 February 1959
  17. The Times, 2 February 1959
  18. The Times 5 November 1959
  19. The Times, 5 September 1960
  20. 1961 Guide to Key British Enterprises
  21. The Times, 1 August 1961
  22. The Times, 7 March 1962
  23. The Times, 9 September 1963
  24. The Times, 5 March 1964
  25. The Times, 22 April 1964
  26. The Times, Apr 06, 1965
  27. The Times Apr 06, 1965
  28. The Times, 18 March 1967
  29. The Times July 5, 1967
  30. The Times, 7 August 1967
  31. The Times, 1 January 1968
  32. The Times, 1 July 1967
  33. The Times, Jan 30, 1968
  34. The Times, 2 March 1968
  35. The Times, March 5, 1968
  36. The Times, 28 July 1970
  37. The Times , Aug 21, 1969
  38. The Times, 28 July 1970
  39. The Times, 21 January 1971
  40. The Times, 14 January 1971
  41. The Times, 13 April 1971
  42. The Times, 27 April 1971
  43. Western Daily Press - 15 September 1976
  44. Companies house filing
  45. The Times Sept. 21, 1978
  46. Companies house filing
  • [1] Wikipedia
  • Biography of Sir Jules Thorn, ODNB [2]
  • The Times, Aug 27, 1976