White Electrical Instruments Ohm Meter (1950s)
I bought this lovely old ohmmeter at a boot sale in England. Manufactured
by the White Electrical Instruments Company of London, it has a solid
walnut case with dovetailed joints.
Lacking the proper battery, I haven't tried to use it. There's no
reason to take it apart, either, since I'll find nothing but a few wires
connecting the meter, battery, and other components.
The test terminals are on the right side of the walnut case, along with
a momentary-contact switch that you depress to make a test.
On the other side is a big round potentiometer knob that lets you
compensate for the battery's decreasing voltage as it discharges over time.
Several years after I posted this article, I received the following information from
a fellow named Roy who worked at White's when these meters were made.
Here is his story:
I served my 5 year apprenticeship at White's from 1958 at 10
Amwell Street, Clerkenwell, London. Then the district was
the heart of London watch, clock and instrument making. I
stayed on another year after doing my time then went to Hilger
& Watts. WEICo moved in the late 60's to Malvern I believe
and are still in business.
The WEICo ohmmeter you have was produced in small quantities
until the early 1960s. Obviously of a pre-war design but
robust and intended for laboratory and college use. The wooden
cases and the cast cover were made by another outside company
but the 'Cirscale' movement was made in-house. The instruments
were assembled and calibrated in the Test Room on the third
floor. On the second floor was the machine shop and on the
ground floor the offices and stores. The basement was the R&D
department. Most of my time was spent in the Test Room.
The mirrored pair of three-storey factories at Nos 6-10 Amwell
Street was built in 1929, the first occupants being Henry
Carlsberg & Son, surgical instrument makers, and the White
Electrical Instrument Co. Ltd. The similar factory at Nos 12-14,
built for Delfosse in 1930, was initially occupied by the
British Blue Spot Co. Ltd, radio manufacturers.
I personally made only 3 or 4 of these. I assembled the movement
in the case, made the appropriate wiring loom, and calibrated
the instrument against a standard resistance box and mirror
galvanometer, marking the brass dial with a pencil. The dial
would then be divided and engraved by my mate Alan and then
silvered by Stan. Then I'd test it, get Mr Waldron the foreman
to give it the once-over, and if necessary I'd write out the
This was a nice looking robust instrument of the old-school style.
WEICo made many instruments for instructional use in schools and
colleges as well as instrumentation of industry. I wish I'd taken
more pictures of this now lost world.
Roy furnished the following photos of the White factory and staff. Click the
thumbnails to see full-size images.
The coil winding department. Mrs Baker (bending): a coil
winder. Foreground Alice and Ron:
Bill Sparkes. Left in photo is the AC Volts test rack. On the
right in the photo are Torsion Balances on the bench and on
the extreme right are wooden cased Standards:
Stan and Ken:
Alan on the dial dividing machine. Movement maker section behind him:
Lunchtime. Apprentices playing cards:
Alice, the cleaner:
Ken and Derek with galvonometer on bench:
The Machine Shop:
Bert Alan aged 73 in 1960: instrument movement maker:
Stan and apprentice: dial silver plating and lacquering:
Thanks again to Roy for providing this fascinating glimpse into the past.