fonds VI/VI - Vickers Instruments Archive

Identity area

Reference code



Vickers Instruments Archive


  • 1884-2009 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

2.42 cubic metres

128 boxes. 2 oversize folders and 1 roll

Context area

Name of creator


Administrative history

In 1959 Cooke Troughton & Simms acquired C. Baker Microscopes and Casella (Electronics) Ltd so in 1962 the name of the combined company was changed to Vickers Instruments Ltd, trading from 1 January 1963. On 1 April 1965 the name changed to Vickers Ltd, Vickers Instruments and on 1 January 1982 to Vickers PLC, Vickers Instruments.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s Vickers Instruments continued to develop a large range of surveying equipment and microscopes for which they won British design awards. In 1968 the microscope side of the Croydon Works (previously C. Baker Microscopes) was transferred to York. Later Laser Range Finders were developed for Vickers tanks and Fibercheck was introduced for the optical glass fibre industry.

In the early 1980s, after reviews and appraisals, it was decided to concentrate on the semi-conductor market which lead to the acquisition of Semco Instruments Co Ltd of Ottawa, Canada. In 1987 Quaestor, an instrument for the high precision measurement of microchips, won the Queen's Award for Technology and the Queen's Award for Export.

In 1988 Vickers Group sold Vickers Instruments (York) to Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc. USA, becoming Bio-Rad Micromeasurements of York. The ordnance side of the business was acquired by British Aerospace, thus keeping it in British hands.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

The archive was deposited at the Borthwick Institute in 1989.

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Corporate records, 1958-1981; financial records, 1963-1988; personnel records, 1959-1991; manufacturing records, 1884-1984; marketing records, 1963-2000s; photographs and negatives, 1963-2000s; publications, 1963-2000s.


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 photographs from the archive have been digitised and can be viewed through the University of York Digital Library:

Related units of description

The archives of several firms that later became part of Vickers Instruments Ltd are also deposited at the Borthwick Institute. These comprise the archives of T. Cooke & Sons; Troughton & Simms; Cooke, Troughton & Simms; and Charles Baker Ltd.

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 Vickers Instruments' parent company Vickers Ltd, 1850-1970, is deposited at Cambridge University Library (Reference: GBR/0012/MS Vickers).

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