All Change at Bell Punch
As with most companies, Bell Punch Co. went through various developments, being taken over and being involved in takeovers. The most significant of these occurred in the late 1950s to 1970s.
By 1952, with the success of the mechanical calculators, extra production capacity was required. Since the Uxbridge factory was fully loaded with the company's other products and tight planning rules prevented expansion, a new factory was set up in Rodney Road, Portsmouth, to where production of mechanical Sumlock calculators was transferred. This extra capacity soon proved inadequate and another industrial unit nearby on Rodney Road was required. In the 1960s and 1970s the Anita electronic calculators were manufactured here, and the production of mechanical calculators continued there until orders eventually petered out. For a time in the 1960s the company required a third industrial unit across the road from the other two.
Lamson Industries take over
In December 1957 Lamson Industries acquired a controlling interest in Control Systems from the widow of the proprietor, John Black. The Lamson subsidiary Lamson Paragon had for some time been associated with Bell Punch. It allowed Bell Punch to operate independently under its own management in Uxbridge.
In mid-1960 Control Systems Ltd. acquired the English operation of Comptometer Corporation of Chicago, U.S.A., including the trademark and the right to the "Comptometer" name in Britain. Comptometer Corporation lost that entire market and then signed a contract with Control Systems to have all their machines manufactured in England and shipped back to the U.S.A..
The two companies were fully integrated on 1st. January 1961 under the name Sumlock Comptometer Ltd.
Sumlock Anita Electronics
In 1966 Lamson Industries, the parent company, set up Sumlock Anita Electronics Ltd. to take over the manufacturing of both the electronic and the mechanical calculators. The Bell Punch Company continued to manufacture the other products, such as ticket issuing systems, taximeters, and totalisators.
The headquarters and main factory of the Bell Punch Company, off Rockingham Road, Uxbridge, to the west of London, around 1970.
From 1952 calculator assembly, firstly mechanical and later electronic, was largely moved to new premises in Portsmouth, on the south coast. Concentrated on this site was the printing of tickets and the manufacture of other Bell Punch Company products, including ticket issuing systems, taximeters, and totalisators.
One arm of the River Colne flows through the site and one arm flows just past it, which led to the the company's address of 'The Island', Uxbridge, Middlesex. This had been the site of a water mill, and the company took advantage of the water flow to power a generator which provided some of the electricity for the site.
The following is an extract from a Lamson Industries booklet of the early 1970s which explains the structure of Lamson Industries, and the position of Sumlock Anita Electronics:
Although there is no date on this booklet it must date from 1971-early 1973 since a photograph inside shows decimal currency (new pence, dating from Feb. 15th 1971), and Lamson Industries sold Sumlock Anita in early 1973.
Text & photographs copyright © 2002 - 2017 Nigel Tout, except where noted otherwise.