Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,478 pages of information and 233,901 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
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[[Category: Electrical Engineering - Light]]
[[Category: Electrical Engineering - Light]]
[[Category: Companies employing 10,000+]]
[[Category: Companies employing 10,000+]]
of Century Works, Lewisham, London, SE
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 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.'
1827-33 at 227 High Holborn, London
1833-49 at 268 High Holborn, London
1835 Mention as 'Mr. Elliott's, No. 268, High Holborn'
1850 Moved to 56, Strand, London
1853 Advertisement. Stringfellow's Patent Electro-Galvanic Pocket Battery. For personal medical use. Sole agents. W. Elliott and Sons, 56 Strand.
1854 Advertisement. Stringfellow's Patent Electro-Galvanic Pocket Battery. Elliott Brothers, 56 Strand.
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...'
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."'
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."'
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.'
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...' Charles Alfred Elliott leaves the partnership.
1871 Employing 150 men under Frederick Henry Elliott. Note: From other sources this figure for the number employed looks rather high.
1875 "Conversaziones" of the Society of Telegraph Engineers - Exhibitors in:
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."
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
1889 Produced 'an improved indication piston'. Company described as 'the well-known opticians'. 
1894 Electric Signals for Warships. 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.
1903 Issued a catalogue of alternating-current instruments.
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. 
1917 Became Elliott Brothers (London) Ltd
1920 Jan. Physical and Optical Societies Exhibition. Exhibitor of electrical instruments. 
1937 Electrical and mechanical instrument makers. 
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).
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..
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.
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 - 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. Several digital computers, as well as process controllers, were developed at Borehamwood, as well as several analogue computers.
1953 Aviation Division was formed at Borehamwood; this formed the basis for Elliott Aviation
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..
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.
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.. 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.
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. 
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.
1968 Supplied plug stringers for the Winfrith power station. 
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..
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.. GEC-Elliott Automation comprised the automation and control activities of the predecessor companies..