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The Evolution of a Business

  • The Elliott firm had a complex history over
    nearly two centuries. The founder William
    Elliott was apprenticed in 1795 and by 1804
    he was independently established. After his
    death in 1853 his two sons took over and
    the business became Elliott Brothers.

    Elliott: An eye on temperature: optical pyrometers

    Fred ElliottCharles Elliott

    The development of telegraphy and electrical
    supply provided a new focus in the late 19th century. In the 20th century the company
    expanded into industrial automation,
    computing and aviation. The trading name of
    Elliott Brothers finally disappeared in 1988,
    the business having been absorbed into what
    is nowadays BAE Systems

  • Electrical instruments were a core part of Elliott Brothers’ business for many decades. Simple devices such as standard ammeters (inv. 12823) and voltmeters (inv. 12809) were produced in quantity and were constructed with small variations to cater for particular ranges of measurement

More sophisticated devices such as galvanometers were intended for the precision measurement of current in the laboratory rather than direct readings in the field. These typically used not a pointer but a rotating mirror which bounced a spot of light onto a scale. The two types here are an astatic suspension galvanometer of c. 1880 (inv. 13045) and an example of Rowland’s galvanometer (inv. 13043).

  • In long-distance transmission, the weak electrical signal of telegraphy may need to be boosted between transmitter and receiver. An interpolator detects and cleans the incoming signal, and sends it on to the next station.

  • The deflection of the needle displays the signals of telegraph messages.

  • This compact current-measuring instrument is read in degrees; to the current has to be calculated rather than simply read off the scale.

  • Used in a power station to monitor the frequency of generated electricity, this is instrument making on a massive scale.

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