Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,518 pages of information and 233,949 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.


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July 1898.
July 1901.
September 1912.
Epidiascope (or magic lantern projector) stand.
Epidiascope (or magic lantern projector) stand.
February 1947.

of Optical Works, 3 North Side, Clapham Common, London, SW4 (1922)

Ditto Address. Telephone: Battersea 3876-7. Cables: "Rossicaste, Phone, London". (1929)

Ditto Address. Telephone: Macaulay 2472. Cables: "Rossicaste". (1947)

1830 Founded by Andrew Ross in Wigmore Street, London.

c1840 Ross started making lenses for cameras. The lenses were engraved A. Ross, London. Ross had an early association with Carl Zeiss in Jena; Zeiss licensed some Ross patent designs particularly for EWA lenses and in turn Ross had a licence for the British Empire to make some Carl Zeiss lens types.

Zeiss built a factory in London, mainly to produce binoculars; some camera lenses also were produced.

1855 Ross also made some cameras, from about 1855 to the 1910s.

1858 After the death of Andrew Ross the firm was run by his 'son T. R. Ross', and the lenses were engraved Ross, London. John Henry Dallmeyer, who had married Ross's second daughter, Hannah, inherited one third of his employer's large fortune and the telescope manufacturing portion of the business.

1859 The firm moved to Brook Street with a sales department in New Bond Street.

1885 Gold medal for invention in respect of progress and excellence of work in the manufacture of lenses, since the early days of photography, also microscopic and other optical apparatus.

WWI Took over Zeiss's London factory at Mill Hill.

1921 Charles Parsons acquired a controlling interest in Ross Ltd, of Clapham, where he improved the methods of glass-grinding.

1922 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Cinematograph Projectors, Photographic Lenses, Lenses for Aeronautical Cameras, Photographic Cameras, Prism Field Glasses, Telescopes, Sporting, Military and Naval. (Stand No. G.61d) [1]

1929 Advert in British Industries Fair Catalogue as an Optical, Scientific and Photographic Exhibit. Manufacturers of Photographic Lenses, Cameras, Prism Binoculars, Field Glasses, Opera Glasses, Telescopes, Terrestrial, Astronomical, Cinematograph Projectors, Search-light Arc Lamps, Equipment, Optical Lanterns, Aeronautical, Astronomical and Nautical Instruments, Lenses, Prisms of all kinds. (Scientific Section - Stand No. O.32) [2]

1937 Aero lenses, binoculars and telescopes. [3]

1947 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Cinematograph Projectors, Arc Lamps, Epidiascopes, Photographic Lenses, Binoculars, Telescopes, Scientific and Optical Instruments including Autocollimating Goniometer and Optical Benches and Special Optical Systems. (Olympia, Ground Floor, Stand No. D.1692) [4]

1948 Ross Ltd and Barnet Ensign Ltd were merged to form Barnet Ensign Ross Ltd. Clearly it was hoped that with the addition of Ross's quality lenses to their existing range of cameras, B.E.R. would become a force to be reckoned with.

1954 Renamed Ross-Ensign Ltd; it produced classic 50s roll film cameras, like the Selfix and Autorange, which are still popular today with many collectors.

By 1955 Ross Ensign had moved production from Walthamstow to Ross's Clapham Common factory, where they continued to produce cameras along with lenses and binoculars.

1961 the production of cameras ended but the company continued for some time to sell Ross optical devices such as binoculars or enlarging lenses.

1969 Part of the Ayling Industries Group.[5]

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [1] Antique and Collectable Forum
  • [2] Ensign History Page
  • Camerapedia [3]