Founded as a valve manufacturer by Captain Stanley Mullard in September 1920 as the Mullard Wireless Service Co Ltd. Production started in Hammersmith and two years later, moved to larger premises at Balham. The Dutch NV Philips Gloeilampenfabrieken company took a 50% share in the company (Mullard required funds to develop his company) in 1924 and acquired full control in 1927. In 1929, Stanley Mullard resigned as MD of the company but remained connected with it (as a director) until he retired in 1970 (aged 87). . He died on 1st September 1979, aged 95. He joined Ediswan in 1915, saw service in WW1, where he was involved in transmitting valve development. In 1920 he set up the Mullard company, to produce these.
By 1946, the Mullard HQ was at the Philips HQ at Century House, Shaftesbury Avenue, London.
Circa 1950, the name was Mullard Electronic Products Ltd for equipment and Mullard Ltd for valves, CRTs and components.
In the mid-50s, Mullard Ltd had the following wholly owned subsidiaries:
The Mullard Radio Valve Co Ltd, Mullard Blackburn Works Ltd, Mullard Overseas Ltd, Mullard Equipment Ltd, Mullard Telecommunications and Marine Telecommunications Ltd. At this time, Mullard had factories at Mitcham (in Surrey), Blackburn ans Simonstone (both in N E Lancashire). It also had factories or feeder units at: Fleetwood, Rawthenstall, Lytham St Annes, Southport, Padiham, Hove, Whyteleafe and Waddon.
In 1957, Mullard moved into a new HQ building at Mullard House, Torrington Place, London, WC1, where they were until the 1990’s, when they relocated to Dorking (but by then, as Philips Components Ltd – the name change took place circa 1988).
The Mullard brand was dropped in favor of Philips Components on 27th April 1988.
Mullard had an association with the (British) Ever Ready company, insofar as valves were concerned. All Ever Ready branded valves were supplied to them by Mullard and Mullard nominated one member of the board of directors of Ever Ready.
In the UK, Mullard/Philips manufactured a wide range of electronic
components and assemblies, including valves, semiconductors, CRTs, wound
components, magnets, ferrites, loudspeakers and tuners. They also made a
Blackburn – Philips Road, Blackburn, Lancs. Valves, capacitors, delay lines – in 1973. Opened shortly before the start of WW2.
Crossens – Balmoral Drive, Crossens, Southport, Merseyside (in 1974). Magnetic materials.
Dunfermline – Queensferry Road, Dunfermline, Fife. TV components and sub-assemblies (in 1979).
Durham (opened in 1972) – Belmont Industrial Estate, Durham. Colour CRTs. LG Philips (the CRT/LCD joint venture between Philips of Holland & LG of South Korea) announced in March 2005, their intention to close this factory by July 2005, with production moving to China.
Hazel Grove – Bramhall Moor Lane, Stockport, Cheshire. In 1979 – power and microwave semiconductors. Originally, a GEC semiconductors site (in 1960 & 61).
Mitcham – New Road, Mitcham, Surrey. Night vision and low level TV devices, modules, professional tubes, colour tube rebuilding, central applications laboratory and materials laboratory (in 1979).
Southampton (Millbrook Trading Estate), opened in 1957 for the manufacture of semiconductors
Stockport (Hazel Grove), Blackburn and Thornaby, Yorkshire (in 1969) – semiconductors
Simonstone – Simonstone, Burnley, Lancs. CRTs and glass
Thornaby (in 1973) – varicap TV tuners.
Washington – Stephenson Estate, Washington, Co Durham. Deflection/convergence wound components for CRTs (in 1978).
Croydon Service Dept, PO Box 142, Beddington Lane, Croydon, CR9 4NA. In 1958, they opened a new Service Department at Purley Way, Croydon.
Mullard valves were favoured by Ferguson, Pye, Bush and (of course!) Philips. There was also a company called Mullard Equipment Ltd. which sold Philips Industrial products in the UK, as well as making their own (e.g. “Norbit” logic modules- still giving sterling service in certain BBC transmitters!). In 1964, the name changed to The MEL Equipment Co Ltd and was sold by Philips in 1990/91 to Thomson CSF of France. Thomson merged MEL with Redifon (whom, by then, they also owned) to form Redifon MEL Ltd. When Thomson CSF changed its name to Thales in 2000, they Redifon MEL name went. In 1946, Mullard opened research laboratories in (Salfords) Redhill, Surrey and they were expanded in 1957 (still in business as Philips Research Laboratories).
Mullard Equipment Ltd
Mullard Equipment Ltd, Manor Royal, Crawley, Sussex (new factory opened in 1961). In 1964, its name was changed to MEL.
Mullard Radio Valve Co Ltd (in 1957), New Road, Mitcham Junction, Surrey.
Mullard Radio Valve Co Ltd (in 1957), Queensway, Waddon Factory Estate, Croydon, Surrey.
Mullard Blackburn Works Ltd – formed in 1951.
I am most indebted to Dazzlevision for providing the historical information for this page. Thanks also goes to Alistair for his CES info.
I have had a communication from another contributor that I must add to this section:
“Towards the end of the 1980s Philips decided to sell all its defence companies worldwide. This affected the then MEL Division of Philips Electronic and Associated Industries Ltd, Manor Royal, Crawley, West Sussex RH10 2PZ. MEL had at this time businesses in medical linear accelerators, EW, radar and communications.
Philips retained the linac business and a fence was built through the site: the MEL linac buildings and the old plant department are still in use to this day, though the linac business is now owned by Electa. The remaining EW, radar and communications businesses of MEL Crawley was then sold to Thorn EMI and MEL Defence Systems Limited in Ottawa, Canada, was sold the Lockheed Martin Canada. Thorn EMI then moved their own radar and EW assets from Hayes to Crawley and the Crawley site became part of the Thorn EMI Sensors Division, which Division also had plant at Wookey Hole Road, Wells, Somerset and Rugely in Staffordshire.
However, Thorn EMI did not want to retain the MEL communications business, so there was a subsequent negotiation with Thompson, who formed MEL Communications on another new and much smaller site in Faraday Road, off Manor Royal in Crawley. MEL Communications, however, were not allowed in the sale agreement to market radar and EW products, which remained part of the business on the former MEL site in Manor Royal, now run by Thorn EMI. MEL Communications was later amalgamated with the Redifon Radio business by Thompson, to become Redifon-MEL .
I was employed by MEL Crawley from September 1963 to 1989 and by Thorn EMI from 1990 to 1993 end and also worked at MEL DSL Canada on secondment in autumn 1989.
Thorn EMI sold the Crawley and Wells sites to Racal in 1995, who also moved their radar and EW work to Crawley and the combined business was known as Racal-Thorn Defence. It was later still that Racal sold this business to Thompson, who subsequently “badge engineered” themselves as Thales.
Thales have since redeveloped the various sites at Crawley. Redifon-MEL had become Thales Communications in Faraday Road by this time but, today, ALL the Thales owned businesses in Crawley are based on a newly developed site, where the old MEL buildings (except the Electa owned linac ones) have been demolished. The new Thales site also takes in the one-time Youngman site that was adjacent to the former MEL site and the former Thales Comms Faraday road site is no longer used by Thales. Moreover, Thales’ former Redifon Simulation site is currently being demolished. The former MEL/TEE F Building site is currently up for sale
Recently Thales closed the Wells site, which was one time a second world war prison camp. One of my present work colleagues on the QE Class project, a Thales employee, has recently had his base moved from Wells to Templecombe because of the closure. Thales Comms at Manor Royal are a major supplier to the QE Class mission system and I still visit there for work, so my knowledge is up to date.
Sadly Philips Research Laboratories (PRL and one time MRL), Cross Oak Lane, Salfords, Surrey (usually known as PRL Redhill) is also no more. I noticed this when I have driven past a number of times. Even the buildings have been demolished”
Thanks to Mike K for this very useful and rare additional information.
I have had an update from Stewart. See below:
I was an apprentice at MEL Crawley between 1968 & 1972. I worked through a number of the departments at MEL.
TV Tuners where they made & calibrated the old rotary tuners just before the onset of the varicap versions.
Radio Test – where we brought in the Clansman radio systems for the Army. As an apprentice I was tasked with testing of the TOR (Telex over Radio) System. Prior to that I helped commission the last of the old discreet TOR systems that we a commercial product & was comprised of a seven foot tall rack with clip in modules each containing 6 PCBs with discreet components, including the old OC76 transistors.
I also worked in the Radar section where they were developing MADGE an aircraft landing system I believe it was, they were also producing other radar systems for The Navy.
I then worked in another department where we were building the Cupola for Chieftan Tanks, & developing the sites for the cupola.
I never did get to work in the department I really wanted to get into – The Linac.
The apprenticeships at MEL were considered one of the finest for electronic engineers in the country & it took me two years to get accepted. They had about 140 applicants the year I was successful & I think they took on about 8 of us.
I remember Manor Royal from my time at MEL & it was a real hive of industry. Not only, as you recount, were Youngman Ladders next door, but APV next door to them. I also had a job offer from APV in 1968 & remember going around their plant where they were manufacturing huge stainless steel vessels for the brewery trade. Also I was offered an apprenticeship at Redifon down on Faraday Road, which also was a fascinating place when I was being interviewed.
Starting Salary MEL Apprentice 1968 £4 10s.