Who was Alexander Muirhead?
Muirhead founded Messrs Muirhead and Company in 1894. Muirhead established
the technological supremacy of the company in the fields of telegraphy
and was the first man to make a recording of a human heartbeat.
Muirhead and Co. went on to supply the first X-rays to Beckenham
Hospital at the turn of the century.
Alexander was a highly skilled electrical engineer, and his laboratory
in Downe had an international reputation for the design and construction
of telegraphic instruments of the very highest quality.
The collection of all Muirhead`s electrical instruments from the
Elmers End electrical works was acquired by the Science Museum in
Alexander lived in Bromley Kent from 1893 - 1920.
Early Company History
company was formed in 1904 to take control over the electrical instrument
business founded by Alexander Muirhead, D.Sc., F.R.S. and carried
on by him in partnership with his brother.
During the latter part of the 19th century Dr. Muirhead was working
on developments in Submarine Cable Telegraphy notably duplex methods.
In 1894 an association with Sir Oliver Lodge on wireless telegraphy
was begun, and in 1900 the Lodge-Muirhead Wireless Syndicate was
founded. The association between Lodge and Muirhead produced many
historical experiments in wireless telegraphy.
Prior to the First World War and during the interval between the
two wars the Company specialised in the development and manufacture
of terminal equipment for submarine cable stations, and in addition
it produced a wide range of electrical and scientific instruments.
By the 1930's the submarine telegraph section of the communications
industry was in decline but by that time the Company had acquired
considerable reputation for the precision and accuracy of its electrical
and mechanical products.
of this reputation led to the first order in 1935 for Magslip Receivers,
which had been developed by the Admiralty Research Laboratories.
The applications of these and other similar rotating components
became so important in the control of guns, searchlights, predictors,
analogue computers and such like, that during the second world war
the Company's production rate of these devices rose to many thousands
per month. The Company also played an important part in assisting
to set up a number of shadow factories in different parts of the
Production of Magslips for the Admiralty started in 1935 and the
varieties and quantities
grew to vast numbers in the war years. Though many are still in
use they have been superseded by synchros, which Muirhead have designed,
developed and supplied to military services throughout the world.
The present range of synchros, motors, permanent magnet alternators
and optical encoders is comprehensive. The acquisitions of Vactric
Control Equipment Ltd. in 1972 made Muirhead Aerospace the
largest Manufacturer in Europe of these products.
After the war both the Magslip and its U.S.A. counterpart, the
Synchro were removed from the Secret List and became open to commercial
development. As a result, many new types were evolved and today
the Motion Technology side of the Company is one of the leading
suppliers of these devices in the U.K. and a position it has maintained
for many years. It was in connection with this area of activities
that the Company's Environmental Testing laboratory was built and
considerable expertise in this work acquired.
When John Bell became Muirhead's Chief Research Engineer in 1946,
he had invented the system of ship stabilisation control and with
Muirhead, produced the system used by more than half the world's
stabiliser control system using microprocessor based and solid state
electronics brought new technological advances.
Muirhead successfully pioneered Precision R.C. Oscillators, Wave
Analysers and other laboratory measuring and test equipment and
due to excellence in design and production, a range of voltage standards
cells were still being made after more than a century.
Due to the continual cross fertilisation in new technology and
commercial ideas, the forward growth of products and expertise has
lead Muirhead Aerospace confidently into the electromechanical actuator