fonds VI/CTS - Cooke, Troughton and Simms Archive

Identity area

Reference code



Cooke, Troughton and Simms Archive


  • 1879-1980 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

2.56 cubic metres

150 boxes, 13 volumes, 3 oversize folders and 9 rolls

Context area

Name of creator


Administrative history

In 1922 the business of T. Cooke and Sons and Troughton and Simms combined to become Cooke, Troughton and Simms with their Head office at the Buckingham Works, York. In December 1924 a new company was registered as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Vickers Ltd. Through the difficult years of the following decade the company managed to survive by producing the new Tavistock theodolite, the Vickers Projection Microscope (VPM) and by gaining armaments contracts through Vickers Ltd. Their salesman, W. H. Connell, travelled to Africa, Canada, South America and Spain attempting to increase the flow of orders in a difficult market.

In 1938 the astronomical side of the business was sold to Grubb Parsons Ltd of Newcastle. In 1939, with the threat of another war, a new factory was built in Haxby Road. During the Second World War large numbers of optical instruments were produced both for industrial inspection purposes and for military use. The old No. 2 factory on Bishophill was renovated and equipped by the Government for war work.

After the war polarizing and phase contrast microscopes were developed and the company reached agreements for the marketing of Tellurometers and McArthur microscopes. In 1959 the company acquired C. Baker Microscopes and Casella (Electronics) Ltd and in 1962 the name of the combined company was changed to Vickers Instruments Ltd., trading from 1/1/1963.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was deposited at the Borthwick Institute in 1989. A further addition was made to the archive in 2010.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Corporate records, 1891-1980; accounting and financial records, 1922-1970; personnel records, 1910-1970; manufacturing records, 1904-1963; sales records, 1912-1971; marketing, 1879-1960s; photographs and negatives, 1920s-1963; publications, 1923-1963.


Further accruals are not expected.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Records are open to the public, subject to the overriding provisions of relevant legislation, including data protection laws.

Conditions governing reproduction

A reprographics service is available to researchers subject to the access restrictions outlined above. Copying will not be undertaken if there is any risk of damage to the document. Copies are supplied in accordance with the Borthwick Institute for Archives' terms and conditions for the supply of copies, and under provisions of any relevant copyright legislation. Permission to reproduce images of documents in the custody of the Borthwick Institute must be sought.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Finding aids

A typescript catalogue, to file level, is available for consultation in the Borthwick Institute's searchrooms and at the National Register of Archives, London.

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Selected images from the archive have been digitised and can be viewed through the University of York's Digital Library:

Related units of description

The archives of T. Cooke & Sons; Troughton & Simms; and Vickers Instruments Ltd are also deposited at the Borthwick Institute.

Books from the Vickers Instruments library, including 17th, 18th and 19th century works on surveying, astronomy and microscopy, form part of the University of York's Special Collections. A catalogue can be viewed online:

Instruments manufactured by Troughton & Simms; T. Cooke & Sons; Cooke, Troughton & Simms; and Vickers Instruments are on display at the Department of Physics at the University of York.

The archive of Cooke, Troughton & Simms' parent company Vickers Ltd, 1850-1970, is deposited at Cambridge University Library (Reference: GBR/0012/MS Vickers).

Publication note

Anita McConnell, 'Instrument makers to the world: A history of Cooke, Troughton & Simms' (York, 1992).

Cooke, Troughton & Simms, 'The history, achievements and products of Cooke, Troughton & Simms Limited' (York 2002).

Notes area

Alternative identifier(s)

Access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier


Rules and/or conventions used

ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion

Created 28.02.17.




Archivist's note

Description compiled by Alison Brech in 2003.

Accession area