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British Industrial History

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GEC Wembley Research Laboratories

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1923. Laboratories at Wembley.

1919 GEC established Britain's first separate industrial research laboratories under C. C. Paterson. The aim was to serve the whole dispersed company but initial focus was to be on the problems of the Lamps Works. Initially the laboratories were housed in a hut at the Lamp and Valve Works at Hammersmith.

1922 Formal opening of the laboratories at Wembley; the labs were intended to pursue research independently of product manufacturing but not academic research.

1923 Official opening by Sir J. J. Thompson

WWII On the outbreak of war GEC put the Laboratories at the disposal of the Government with no consideration of commercial gain or industrial rivalry to hinder the war effort.

A microwave generator (operating at a wavelength of about 10 centimetres) was needed for the Chain Home radar system; John Randall and Harry Boot had developed a magnetron at Birmingham University incorporating cavity resonant circuits in the magnetron itself. On 21 February 1940 the work succeeded, developing so much power that the experimenters could hardly believe that it was microwave power. This experimental magnetron became a working reality through the work of Dr E. C. S. Megaw and his associates at the GEC Research Laboratories, Wembley.

1948 After Patterson's death, O.W. Humphreys was appointed head of the laboratories with an advisory scientific group.

1950 John Walter Ryde was appointed Chief Physicist at the G.E.C. Research Laboratories and Chief Scientist in 1953.

1954 Semi-conductor research was the second largest development project after that for Government departments; many applications for transistors were foreseen[1]

1961 renamed Hirst Research Centre as part of a reorganisation of the R&D activities in the company intended to give the operating companies stronger links with their research groups with scientific policy and guidance from the Research Centre

1962 V. J. Francis was appointed director

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times Aug 24, 1954
  • IET [1]
  • The GEC Research Laboratories, 1919-1984 By Sir Robert Clayton, Joan Algar