Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Penny and Giles Controls

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of Christchurch

1956 Founded by Professor William Penny and James Giles, when they identified a demand for instrumentation in the aviation industry for high-precision, high-reliability wire-wound potentiometric devices for customers engaged in aircraft flight testing.

1957 Developments led to the first aircraft accident data recorder based on magnetic recording of data on stainless steel wire (popularly known as the 'Black Box').

During 1963, the UK Ministry of Aviation gave notice of a mandatory requirement for passenger carrying civil aircraft to be equipped with accident data recording systems, and Penny & Giles were well placed to supply sensors and recorders for these systems.

Through the following decades, Penny & Giles developed technologies and products for diverse markets such as professional broadcasting and recording, motor controllers for powered wheelchairs, paperless chart recorders and trackerballs for computer interfacing.

1973 Penny and Giles Conductive Plastics received a Queens Award for Technological Innovation[1]

1974 Mr H. Hirst was appointed a director of Penny and Giles International with special responsibility for marketing activities in the Scandinavian countries.[2]

1984 Shares first quoted on USM[3]

1987 Penny and Giles International had 4 main divisions[4]

  • Conductive Plastics
  • Data Recording
  • Potentiometers
  • Transducers

1989 Bought the data recorder business of Thorn EMI[5]

1992 Famous as a maker of aircraft "black boxes". Acquired by Bowthorpe Holdings[6]

The product range includes: linear and rotary position sensors; LVDT and RVDT transducers; joysticks; studio faders; digital panel meters; and solenoid actuators for a wide range of industrial motion control applications.

2002 Acquired by Curtiss-Wright

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Apr 21, 1973
  2. The Engineer 1974/05/30
  3. The Times, Dec 07, 1984
  4. The Times, November 27, 1987
  5. The Times June 23, 1989
  6. The Times April 02, 1992