Smiths is a British engineering company involved in wide-ranging
speciality engineering activities. It was founded by Samuel Smith, Senior
as S. Smith and Son and later became Smith's Industries
1851 The company that became Smiths started as clock and watch business
in the mid 19th century. A family business, it was founded by Samuel Smith
1873 Samuel Smith, Junior opened larger premises on The Strand and later
had shops in Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square in London
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,
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.
1917 Formed as a public company S. Smith and Sons (Motor Accessories) Ltd
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.
Over 50,000 speedometers had been made.
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. 
By 1927 both KLG Sparking Plugs and British Jaeger Instruments had become
part of Smiths
1928 The company formed a department to make escapements having previously
bought these from Switzerland. This became A. B. E. Co at Chronos Works,
1929 The Aircraft Instruments Department was formed
In the 1930s Smiths agreed a trading deal with Lucas 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
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
In 1932 Smiths purchased English Clock and Watch Manufacturers of Coventry
and acquired the trade names Astral and Empire which they used extensively
In 1934, Smiths bought the Enfield Clock Co and production at the Edmonton
factory under the Enfield name until c1950
Around 1936 Henry Hughes and Son, a marine instrument maker was taken over
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 A major regrouping of the whole Smiths organisation was carried
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
1951 see S. Smith and Son
1958 Separate Smiths Aviation and Smiths Marine divisions were setup.
1960 An Industrial division was formed whose main operations were industrial
1963 Motor Show exhibitor. Listed as S. Smith and Sons and showed Lodge
sparking plugs, Radiomobile car radios and instrument panels. 
1964 The company employed 25,000 persons in 27 factories in the UK
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.
2000 Smiths Industries merged with the TI
Group and as a result of that merger the company name was changed to
Smiths Group plc.