History of SMITHS Instruments

Samuel Smith & Son

Samuel Smith Junior began selling clocks and watches in the Strand, London in 1871.  By the turn of the twentieth century they were the premier clock and watch supplier in London and at the same time taking their first steps into manufacture of automotive speedometers.  Through the twentieth century the product portfolio grew and the name Smiths became synonymous with automotive components.  One of the factories producing instrumentation was in Ystradgynlais, South Wales,   formerly the Celtic Clock and Watch factory known locally, even today, as ‘Tick-Tock.’



Anglo Celtic & Lucas

The automotive instrumentation business was sold to Lucas back in 1984.  Lucas introduced wiring harness manufacture to the Ystradgynlais factory and relocated instrumentation, a few miles down the road, to Abercrave.  Whilst under management ownership the business was renamed Caerbont Automotive Instruments Ltd (CAI),

Smiths Automotive

At the start of the 20th century, the age of the early automobiles, Smith & Sons produced the first British odometer ("mileometer") and speedometer.  In the 1930s Smiths agreed a trading deal with Lucas whereby the two would not compete in certain areas and Lucas took on part of Smiths non-instrumentation assets. Smiths became the dominant supplier of instruments to British motorcar and motorcycle firms.

These instruments carried a distinctive logo, the word "SMITHS" centred above the middle of the dial and silk screened onto it in a unique house font familiar to generations of drivers.



Caerbont Automotive Instruments

Clocks, watches, and automotive instruments eventually ceased to be significant markets for Smiths, and by the 1980s, the automotive instrument division had been sold, first to Lucas, and eventually to the factory employees. The new company, Caerbont Automotive Instruments, continues to produce classic Smiths-branded instruments with the blessing of Smiths Group plc. The Abercrave factory continues to produce Smiths instruments, with original tooling and authentic designs. Today, CAI is the only officially "licensed by Smiths" manufacturer in the UK. CAI also own the Smiths brand in North America