A spark of genius - a look back over more than 100 years of innovation.


Sparks of genius

mr-tinsleyThe company was founded by Henry Tinsley in 1904. 

In the year that he founded his own firm Henry Tinsley was living in a house called 'Pea Lea' in Elmers Road, Beckenham and started the business from a small workshop at his home where he took on his first employee, William Moat. Equipped with little more than a single lathe Tinsley began making resistance boxes and galvanometers.

This was the origin of the well known Tinsley electronic instrument company.


Pioneering work

Weston Standard Cells - first commercially manufactured in England by H. Tinsley


Snell & Tinsley

tinsley-history - stanley HouseBusiness quickly grew and in 1907 the firm moved to Stanley House, Eldon Park Road, South Norwood where Tinsley entered into a partnership with another instrument maker named Snell - becoming for a short time Snell & Tinsley making telegraph apparatus, condensers, standard cells, potentiometers and 'bridges'. Snell however died after one year of the partnership leaving Henry Tinsley in sole ownership.


Early years

Fortunately during those difficult early years Henry Tinsley would be assisted by his wife Emma, a frugal Quaker who kept a very close eye on finances and helped in many practical tasks, cell making and coil winding.


Pioneering work

Drysdale Phase Shifters


Pioneering work



Vibration Galvanometer - Drysdale & Tinsley
Tinsley Vernier Potentiometer with Slide Wire

(Left: An early advertisement for Tinsley's Potentiometer)




Pioneering work

Drysdale a.c. Polar Potentiometer
Standardising Bridge
Torsion Head Dynamometer Polyphase Wattmeter - Dysdale


Pioneering work

Optical Parallelism tester for checking binoculars
Syphon Recorders and Telegraph Apparatus
Condensers for Submarine Cables and Artifical Lines
Precision Mica Condensers


Rapidly expanding

Werndee-hallWith the business now rapidly expanding Tinsley was looking for new premises and moved into Werndee Hall in 1916 where the firm would stay for almost 70 years. Werndee Hall consisted of a large house and stable; the building was on a three acre site which was ideally suited to handling the expansion of the business which had occurred due to the first world war when many new and varied instruments were required by the military.


Joined by DC Gall

tinsley-history1919DC Gall, Henry Tinsleys young cousin joined the firm in 1919 on his release from the Royal Navy Air Service. In charge of the test room manufacturing efficiency was soon improved and piled up orders from home and abroad were soon sorted out and systematically executed. Over the decades which followed a considerable number of instruments made by Tinsley would bear some mark of DC Gall's influence.


Pioneering work

High Precision Vernier Potentiometer


Pioneering work

Introduction of self-contained Reflecting Galvanometer


Pioneering work

Gall Co-ordinate A.C. Potentiometer


Pioneering work

Continuousely pumped Cathode Ray Oscillographs for explosion tests. Forerunner of the electron microscope


Pioneering work

Non-Inductive Coils and Resistance Boxes


Pioneering work

Very large d.c. shunts up yo 30,000 amps
Current Transformer Calibration Equipment


Pioneering work

Apparatus for duplexing submarine cables
Coxes submarine Cable Relays
Smith Bridge for Precision Platinum Resistance


Pioneering work

Tuning Forks and Phonic Motors with Dr. A.B. Wood
A.C. short circuit shunts up to 200,000 amps
Marine Biological Apparatus with Dr. W.R.G. Atkins
Iron Testing Equipment
High Precision Vernier Potentiometer


Pioneering work

Geophysical Prospecting equipment using electrical methods - Mr. A. Broughton Edge


Pioneering work

Moving Coil Vibration Galvanometer
Instrument Switches Dual Contact


Pioneering work


Self-contained illuminated galvanometers as limit bridge for high speed equipment testing

(Left: The Test Room 1936)


Pioneering work

Mast Head wind direction indicators for J. Class Yachts
Galvanometers with optical magnifiers
Galvanometer d.c. Amplifier for automatic control
Submarine detecting apparatus
Air interception radar apparatus
Strain Gauge Bridges
Radio Sondes
Helographs - Auto pilot test gear
Shell hardness testers


Pioneering work

A.C. and D.C. Stabilisers
Flour graders
Platinum Resistance Thermometers


Technical Sales

For the first 50 years, unlike the present day Tinsley's did not employ sales engineers apart from the occasions when Henry Tinsleys himself or his nephew visited customers to discuss their requirements. It was in the early 1950's that the firm employed it's first full time technical sales representative; thereafter sales engineers would travel throughout the UK and abroad visiting the company's agents, arranging exhibitions of the firm's products and spreading the com pan's reputation still further.


Pioneering work

Very High Precision Potentiometer for discrimination to I part in 10,000,000
Infra red bolometers


(Above: Potentiometer and Test Department 1959)


Pioneering work

Infra red Fault Locating equipment
Galvanometer amplifiers


Pioneering work

Automatic current controllers applied to automatic precision measurement


Pioneering work

tinsley-history-staff1963Stabaumatic Potentiometer
Automatic Flour Graders
Inductive Ratiometers
Automatic Potentiometers

(Left: Staff pictured in 1963)


Calibration Laboratory

tinsley-history-clean-air-conditionsIn the mid 1960's it was decided to build a separate Calibration Laboratory to undertake all the high precision measurements of the Tinsley instruments and carry out the assembly and adjustments in a temperature and humidity controlled environment.

(ABove: Precision Thermometers being manufactured under clean air conditions).


(Above: A staff gathering, 1964 with a total combined service of over 600 years)


End of an era

DC Gall had reached the age of 77 and feld that he no longer had the energy to continue to run the business and decide to retire. The same year the company was sold to Agricultural Holdings Ltd, which had a large engineering division into which Tinsley became incorporated.


(Above: Mr DC Gall centre, Mr Maurice Gall left and Mr Colin Gall right).


On the move

Despite building extensions, in 1983, given the considerable amount of work which would be required to bring the building up to modern standards, Werndee Hall and surrounding land were sold and the company moved to Imperial Way on the Old Croydon Airport Estate.


The Tinsley Group

Agricultural Holdings Co. Ltd was itself sold to Booker McConnel Ltd, with the exception of Tinsley and one or two other small companies which then became The Tinsley Group Ltd.


A successful partnership

In 1986 the company was introduced to Dr David Henson at that time Senior Lecturer in the Optometry & Visual Sciences Department of Cardiff University and who was looking for a suitable company to help develop his ideas for a new Field Vision Screener. Although outside Tinsley's normal sphere of activities the requirement for high precision electrical measurement was apparent and this became the start os a successful partnership.


Larger premises

The company moved again to a purpose built 25,000 sq. ft factory in King Henry's Drive, New Addington. With the formation of the new group and a younger team managing the business, suitable premises were needed to handle the growth expected with the introduction of new products and business ventures.


Sifam Tinsley Instrumentation

Tinsley acquired by Sifam Tinsley Instrumentation Limited.


The future

Today the Tinsley company has an enormous reputation and whose name is synonymous with quality and reliability. The instruments manufactured today are of an accuracy which was unheard of when Henry Tinsley founded the business but one can be sure he would have proud of the progress that has been made in the century since he founded the company in 1904. His company continues to play a major role in the development of instrumentation and new technology for a whole range of instruments.


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