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 163,368 pages of information and 245,906 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.

Taylor, Taylor and Hobson

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July 1901.
September 1912.
1916. Glass slitting machine. Exhibit at the Snibston Discovery Museum.


1933. Electric Etcher.
Sept 1940.
April 1943.
May 1943
November 1944.
September 1945.
Dec 1945.
April 1946
1950s. Talyrond for measuring roundness. Exhibit at the Snibston Discovery Museum.
1959. Machine with Duplicator Table and arranged for Two-Dimensional Copying
Alignment Telescope
Talevel (electronic level)

of Stoughton Street Works, Leicester. (1937 and 1947)

London Office: 150 Holborn. (1947)

1886 Formation of the company T. S. and W. Taylor when brothers William Taylor and Thomas Smithies Taylor started a company to make lenses. William was the genius of the company and believed that it wasn't worth starting to make a product before you could measure it. This led him to examine the processes of lens making and the methods of grinding and polishing glass. It would be another 50 years before the company, hampered by lack of suitable inspection equipment, would develop its own metrology products.

1887 Herbert William Hobson joined and became the sales face of the company.

1893 H. Dennis Taylor the manager of T. Cooke and Sons, patented the "Cooke Triplet" lens, made of three optical elements of different sorts of glass. With this construction, chromatic aberration was reduced to a minimum. Taylor took his design to Taylor, Taylor and Hobson (no connection) for manufacture. This lens became the most consistent in quality worldwide.

1894 Patent. GB189406420A Improvements in Engraving Machines.

1896 Partnership dissolved. '... the Partnership heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned Thomas Smithies Taylor William Taylor and Herbert William Hobson carrying on business as Scientific Instrument Makers at Slate-street Leicester and No. 8 Charing Cross-road London under the style or firm of Taylor Taylor and Hobson has been dissolved by mutual consent as and from the first day of September 1896. All debts due to and owing by the said late firm will be received and paid by the said Thomas Smithies Taylor and William Taylor who will continue to carry on the business...'[1]

1901 Incorporated as a limited company.

1914 Scientific instrument manufacturers. Specialities: photographic lenses and other optical goods; engraving machinery and other fine tools, golf ball moulds, time-recording clocks. [2]

1914-18 Developed the Aviar lens for photographing from aeroplanes. This gave the allied airforce supremacy. Also contributed to the war by developing binoculars, bores for rifles and lenses for range-finders.

1919 William Taylor awarded the OBE.

ca.1924 Name changed from Taylor, Taylor and Hobson to Taylor-Hobson

1932 The first Cooke zoom lens for cine photography.

1937 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Workshop Projector and Lenses covering large fields. Engraving Machinery (with new type Cutter-Grinder) for Engraving Lettering and Designs on Metal Wood, Vulcanite, etc. Etching Machinery for Etching Lettering on Metals. (Stand Nos. D.809 and D.708). [3]

1939 See Aircraft Industry Suppliers

1939 Taylor Hobson came to supply over 80% of the world's lenses in film studios, especially in America, where Hollywood was beginning to dominate the industry.

1940 Taylor Hobson began to manufacture more accurate lenses, and realised the need for instruments that would measure the perfection of each lens. Without anything else on the market, Taylor Hobson invented something themselves, the first Talysurfs and Talyronds, which led the inspection and measurement industry for years to come.

1941 Talysurf 1 - the world's first true surface texture measuring instrument. It became the standard for reference and controlling surface finish in the manufacturing shop.

1945 Several British companies involved in precision instruments (Coventry Gauge and Tool Co, Taylor, Taylor and Hobson, and E. R. Watts and Son) agreed to pool their development and manufacturing resources but would continue separately to sell and service their equipment[4]

1947 Listed Exhibitor - British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Engineering Measuring Instruments, Electrical Comparators, Surface Roughness Recorders. Toolroom Microscopes, Alignment Telescopes and Projectors. Lenses for Cameras, Process Printing, Cine Projection and Radiography. (Olympia, Ground floor, Stand No. A.1030) [5]

1947 One of the companies within the J Arthur Rank Organisationthat were involved in scientific research[6]. Products included lenses, precision photographic shutters, optical instruments.

1948 British Acoustic Films already owned many of the shares in Taylor, Taylor and Hobson[7]

1948 Acquired by British Optical and Precision Engineers on its formation, part of the J. Arthur Rank Organisation.

1949 Talyrond 1 - the world’s first roundness measuring instrument invented but only 1 unit was made and used at Taylor Hobson's premises. Customers had to send parts to Taylor Hobson to be measured.

1951 The Micro Alignment Telescope developed.

1954 Talyrond 1 went into production after demands from customers.

1956 The name of British Optical and Precision Engineers was changed to Rank Precision Industries[8]

1965 Development of the hand-held Surtronic, bringing surface finish to the shop floor at an economical price.

1966 Development of the Talystep step height and surface finish instrument.

1968 Acquired the optical company Hilger and Watts.

1968 New division established within Rank Precision Industries to focus on development of scientific instruments business; initially involved Hilger and Watts, Rank Taylor Hobson, Rank Bush Murphy Electronics, Rank Electronic Tubes[9].

1996 Schroder Ventures acquired Taylor Hobson from the Rank Organisation.

1998 MBO of Cooke Optics making lenses

2004 Taylor Hobson was taken over by AMETEK Inc. Taylor Hobson website here (Aug 2020).

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The London Gazette Publication date:4 September 1896 Issue:26774 Page:4999
  2. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  3. 1937 British Industries Fair p423
  4. The Times Sept. 20, 1945
  5. 1947 British Industries Fair p272
  6. The Times 1 October 1947
  7. The Times Mar. 10, 1948
  8. The Times 2 April 1956
  9. The Times 24 September 1968
  • Camerapedia [1]