Originally of St. John's Square, Clerkenwell (1876), then later of Cricklewood, London, NW2, and then of Cheltenham
Smiths is a British engineering company involved in wide-ranging speciality engineering activities and later became Smith's Industries.
1851 Samuel Smith & S. Smith and Son
1873 Samuel Smith, Junior opened larger premises on The Strand and later had shops in Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square in London
1882 Listed at 151/153 Newington Causeway as Watchmaker and Jeweller. 
1884 Listed as 'Smith Samuel goldsmith, jeweller, optician, watch maker and jet ornament manufacturer. 151 and 153 Newington Causeway' 
1895 Listed as Samuel Smith, Watchmaker and Jeweller of 151 and 153 Newington Causeway 
1898 'Smith Samuel and Son, 9 Strand WC; watchmakers to the Admiralty, high-class watches with certificates from the Royal Observatory, Kew; premier positions 1885 to 1898; medal for non-magnetizable watches; split seconds chronographs; sole makers of the four-dial non-magnetic chronographs and revolving escapement watches.' Also one line entry under jewellers. 
1900 At the start of the 20th century and the age of the automobile they produced the first British odometer ("mileometer") and speedometer.
1913 April. Advert in Autocar for Speedometers. S. Smith and Son of 9 Strand, London. 
1914 Advert for S. Smith and Son wrist watches gives addresses at Trafalgar Square and 68 Piccadilly 
1914 S. Smith and Sons (Motor Accessories)
1914 Formed a public company S. Smith and Sons (Motor Accessories) Ltd to acquire from S. Smith and Son that part of the business concerned with manufacture of speedometers, carburretors, and other motor accessories with headquarters at Great Portland Street. The company was run by Samuel Smith Junior's son Allan Gordon Smith and the turnover was more than £100,000.
1915 Factory at Cricklewood built to make speedometers and employed 400 persons. The employees soon increased to 2,000 and they also made aircraft instruments and shell fuses for war time contracts.
In 1919 Smiths acquired M. L. Magneto Syndicate
1919 January. Advert for 'Starting and Lighting Systems'. S. Smith and Sons of 179-185 Great Portland Street, London. 
1920 October. Exhibited at the Commercial Motor Exhibition at Olympia with electrical lighting equipment for commercial vehicles. 
1928 The company formed a department to make escapements having previously bought these from Switzerland. This became A. B. E. Co at Chronos Works, Cricklewood.
1929 The Aircraft Instruments Department was formed
1930 Smiths agreed a trading deal with Joseph Lucas Ltd whereby the two would not compete in certain areas and Lucas took on part of Smiths non-instrumentation assets. Smiths became the dominant supplier of instruments to British motorcar and motorcycle firms.
1931 Acquired the rights for an automatic pilot
Also see Bluecol
Formation of Smiths English Clocks
1931 Smiths, then called S. Smith and Sons (Motor Accessories) Ltd, entered the domestic clock market and formed a new company, Smiths English Clocks, as the Clock and Watch division of S. Smith and Sons (Motor Accessories) Ltd, with Cricklewood as the main factory. Smiths were one of the first companies to produce synchronous electric clocks. These were put on the market towards the end of 1931.
1932 Smiths English Clocks was formed. By this time they were making 4,000 clocks each week
1932 Smiths purchased English Clock and Watch Manufacturers of Coventry and acquired the trade names Astral and Empire which they used extensively
1933 Lucas purchased North and Sons Ltd., then one of the leading manufacturers of magnetos and also a manufacturer of speedometers and other instruments for motor vehicles. Lucas subsequently recovered half the purchase price from Smiths: Lucas took over the magneto side of the business and Smiths, the instrument side.
1934 Smiths bought the Enfield Clock Co and production at the Edmonton factory under the Enfield name until c1950
From 1937 the trade name "Sectric" appears on Smiths electric clocks
1939 Ralph Gordon-Smith, the son of Allan Gordon-Smith, arranged for a new site to be purchased at Bishop's Cleeve near Cheltenham to protect the business from potential bombing in the London area. The site at Bishop's Cleeve was Kayte Farm of 300 acres and it was purchased for £25,000 on the 6th April 1939. On 1st June S. Smith and Sons (Cheltenham) Ltd was formed as a subsidiary of the main business
British Precision Springs was set up to manufacture the hairsprings used in clocks as the source in Germany was not available during the war years
1940 In August the the main instrument repair department at Cricklewood was destroyed by bombing
World War II: Production expanded. There was a demand for motor, aircraft and marine instruments for the Services and the production of industrial instruments, hitherto imported, was begun. Fuses for shells were also manufactured.
1944 S. Smith and Sons (England)
1944 A major regrouping of the whole Smiths organisation was carried out.
1944 The name of the principal company was changed to S. Smith and Sons (England) Ltd with four divisions:
- Smiths Motor Accessories
- Smiths Industrial Instruments
- Smiths Aircraft Instruments
- Smiths English Clocks
1947 The company had 17,000 employees with Cheltenham, the largest, having 2,500
1951 See S. Smith and Sons (England)
1958 Separate Smiths Aviation and Smiths Marine divisions were setup.
1960 An Industrial division was formed whose main operations were industrial instrumentation.
1964 The company employed 25,000 persons in 27 factories in the UK
1965 Smiths Industries
1965 With increasing diversification and international operations the name Smiths Industries was adopted to reflect wider operations. The contribution of clocks and watches to the business declined and Smiths stopped being the direct supplier of motor equipment to European car producers.
1968 Queen's Award to Industry for Technological Innovation. 
1966 the name of the principal company of the Smiths group was changed from S. Smith and Sons (England) Ltd to Smiths Industries.
1979 Provision made for restructuring and reorganisation of the motor vehicle component businesses
1981 Further reorganisation of the motor vehicle and marine businesses after losses.
1983 With Lucas formed a joint venture on vehicle control systems, Lucas Electrical Electronics & Systems, bringing together 5 plants from each partner ; Smiths would own about 20percent of the venture. Most of Smiths automotive businesses had been sold to Lucas and to Hanson Trust; the medical division accounted for 40percent of profits; the largest profit came from aerospace; the Clock Co was closed
Sources of Information
- 1882 Post Office London Directory
- 1884 Business Directory of London
- 1895 Post Office London Directory
- 1899 Post Office London Directory
- The Autocar of 5th April 1913 p vi
- The Times, Friday, Aug 07, 1914
- The Times 21 July 1914
- The Autocar of 4th January 1919 p45
- The Engineer of 29th October 1920 p426
- The Times 22 November 1935
- 1963 Motor Show
- The Engineer of 26th April 1968 p650
- The Times, Nov 14, 1979
- The Times, Nov 11, 1981
- The Times, Mar 29, 1983
- The Times, Apr 13, 1983
- The Times, Nov 10, 1983