Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

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.

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.


From Graces Guide
March 1921.
Dec 1921.
September 1928.


October 1931.
September 1933.
October 1933.
February 1936.
August 1937.
October 1937.
October 1937.
6th January 1939.
March 1939.
November 1942.
January 1948.
March 1948.
April 1948.
July 1948.
May 1949.
October 1949.
November 1950.
1951. Wembley Glass.
January 1952.
February 1952.
July 1952.
September 1953.
September 1953.
September 1953.
September 1953.
September 1953.
October 1953.


December 1953.


February 1954.
October 1954.
December 1954.
February 1955.
June 1955.
February 1968.
November 1990.

1905 Hugo Hirst learnt of the development of Tungsten filaments for lamps in Austria-Hungary, went to investigate and acquired rights[1].

1906 the Osram incandescent lamp was developed; its name was formed from the German words OSmium, from the element osmium, and WolfRAM, from the element tungsten (called Wolfram in many languages and an alternative name in English).

The OSRAM trademark was first registered in Britain by Auer in April 1906, one month after it was registered in Germany, as a way of marketing its new form of lighting filament.

GEC imported Osram filaments from Germany for their own production of light bulbs[2].

1906/7 GEC established a factory in UK to manufacture lamps, Osram Lamp Works, having offered one-third shares to the Austrian and German patent holders[3].

In October 1907 the Wolfram (Tungsten) Metal Filament Lamp Works Ltd was founded as a joint venture between Auer, GEC and Just & Hanaman. The rights to the OSRAM trademark in Britain were transferred to the new company, which then changed its name to the OSRAM Lamp Works Ltd.

1908 Advertisement for Osram lamps by GEC [4]

1909 Factory at Hammersmith completed; quality of the product as good as that from the Continent[5]

1911 The Deutschen Gasgluhlicht AG (Berlin), which manufactured the Osram lamp in Germany and is "considerably interested" in the Osram works in London and Paris, made an offer for the Welsbach Incandescent Gas Light Co[6]

1912 GEC's investments included the Lamp Works at Hammersmith, one of a number of enterprises which was directed or controlled by GEC[7].

Before the War, Lemington Glass Works (Lemington-on-Tyne) supplied about 80% of the electric light bulbs and tubing used by Osram-Robertson Lamp Works[8].

WWI: installed 2 new regenerative gas-furnaces to increase the capacity substantially[9].

1915 The large German shareholding in the Osram Lamp Works Ltd had provoked negative press treatment. Hugo Hirst, the Chairman of GEC, told the company meeting of GEC that a way had been found that would give future control of the works into British hands, he trusted for ever[10]. Osram Lamp Works, Robertson Lamp Works and Lemington Glass works were amalgamated by GEC[11].

1916 Christopher Wilson and Frederick Percy Driver approached Clifford Copland Paterson to set up a research laboratory at Osram which he eventually agreed to do.

1917 GEC was part owner of the Osram-Robertson Lamp Works and had managed the Works since opening. Purchased further shares in Osram-Robertson Lamp Works Ltd [12].

1919 GEC took over Osram in Britain, including the Osram-Robertson Lamp Works[13].

1919 Although the three German lighting manufacturers merged to form OSRAM GmBH, they could not use this trademark in Britain, instead using the name WOTAN.

1919 The first laboratory was set up at the valve works at Hammersmith based on Paterson's design. The laboratories would now cover all of GEC.

In 1920, Auergesellschaft, Siemens & Halske, and Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft (AEG) combined their electric lamp production with the formation of the German company Osram (which is now part of Siemens AG).

1921 Osram GEC Lamp Works at Hammersmith.

Post-WWII OSRAM GmBH attempted to regain control of its trademark in Britain, but these negotiations were unsuccessful.

1951 Grainger and Threlfall Ltd. were sole wholesale distributors for Wembley Glass (which was made by OSRAM-G.E.C.).[14]

1962 GEC formed OSRAM General Electric Company Ltd to manufacture commercial, industrial, domestic and street lighting.

1986 Helmut Plettner was able to announce that GEC and OSRAM GmbH had entered into a joint undertaking, OSRAM-GEC Limited. Not only did this return the rights of the trademark to the German company but it also allowed the considerable technological innovations of the company to be exploited in the British market.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. History of GEC
  3. History of GEC
  4. The Times, Wednesday, Nov 25, 1908
  5. The Times, 23 July 1909
  6. The Times, 2 Mar 1911
  7. The Times, 10 July 1912
  8. Glass-Making in England, by H. J. Powell
  9. Glass-Making in England, by H. J. Powell
  10. The Times, 10 July 1915
  11. History of GEC
  12. The Times, 18 July 1917
  13. The Times, Thursday, Jul 10, 1919
  14. 1951 advert.
  • [1] and [2] Science Museum Collections