by Mike Dewey

FTS was born out of the E number system. This had been established in the early days of Fulmer to record the time spent on Enquiries which might lead to research contracts, when the expenditure would be transferred to an R number. When I joined Fulmer in March 1966 E numbers were under the control of the Development Officer John Coiley, the ex Aeon Laboratories Chief Executive, who had replaced John Cole when he left in 1965.

My brief was to develop a metallurgical section concentrating on the application of electron microscopy to the study of the microstructure of metals. This was made easier by the transfer, with the assistance of Jack Nutting, of three contracts with the Ministry of Defence formally held by Aeon Labs.

These contracts became R253, 254 and 258 at FRI.

Although FRI already had an electron microscope (EM), this was a part of the Physics Lab, and its use by others was not easily accessible. So once again with the help of Jack Nutting, a new Siemens EM was acquired on favourable terms. These terms were justified by the arguments:

  • That the constant flow of visitors through a contract research laboratory was a good “shop window” for potential customers for the EM.
  • That many potential customers would want to verify that the EM would be useful to them by having FRI carry out some preliminary investigations.

Aeon Labs had been the UK agent for Siemens, but this was terminated following financial difficulties at Aeon Labs.

The Siemens EM was installed in the western side of the ground floor in the new “1966 building”. This was completed just in time for the visit of Sir Paul Chambers to formally open the 66 building on September 30, 1966.


Cambridge 2A Scanning Electron Microscope (Z121)

For my new section I was allocated the whole of the western side of the ground floor, with Nick’s chemistry lab on the eastern side. On the first floor of this building, H H Smith’s wet chemistry lab was above Nick, and the Corrosion section of Graham Sanderson above my lab.

In 1968/69 we acquired a Scanning Electron Microscope from Cambridge Instruments, again on favourable terms using the same justification as with the EM.

As a result of these acquisitions the flow of short-term work into Fulmer increased greatly.

As the E number work grew, WED agreed that in order to be able to market this short-term work more effectively a separate unit to be called Fulmer Technical Services should be established. This was in effect just a brand name for marketing purposes. It was launched in April 1970. The launch was advertised by the mailing of a laminated leaflet containing metrification conversion information.

Ron Lewin and Mike Gillam explaining the work of Fulmer Technical services during the Open Day in 1971 (Z370)

There were inevitably some misgivings by some senior Fulmer staff about FTS, because of the emphasis on the encouragement of short-term testing and consultancy work rather than R&D contracts.

January 2023

FRHG ref: V899