MADE IN CHARLTON
In 1863 Siemens Brothers boldly launched one
of London’s most innovative factories, making
state-of-the-art cables, before diversifying into
telephones, measuring apparatus, electric lamps
Siemens Brothers’ factory produced thousands
of miles of subsea telegraph cables to connect
the world using their own cable-laying ship,
the CS Faraday – named after William Siemens’
mentor, Michael Faraday.
THE DYNAMIC TRIO
Made in Charlton, Siemens brothers dynamos
and high voltage cables helped electricity spread
like lightning across London and eventually
the entire UK.
LET THERE BE LIGHT
The Charlton factory was one of the leading
manufacturers of arc lamps that were soon lighting
factories, public buildings, streets and city squares.
Incandescent bulbs quickly replaced arc lights, but
Siemens Brothers was again at the cutting-edge.
In 1912, Siemens Brothers’ success was helped by
the Uniselector, an electro-mechanical stepping
switch that automatically connected calls. It sped
up telephone exchanges – but reduced the need for
IT’S GOOD TO TALK
Launched in 1930, the Neophone was the iPhone
of its day. Developed by Siemens Brothers for
the Post Office, it was a big improvement on the
“candlestick” telephone that could be found in
many homes and businesses across the country.
Early telephones and other devices needed batteries
to work, made right here in Charlton. Siemens
Brothers’ batteries were also used for radios and
in cars, which then vied with horses and carts and
electric trolleybuses in the busy London streets.
During the Second World War, Siemens developed
a top-secret cable, the ‘HAIS Cable’, for an oil pipeline
across the English Channel to support the Allied
invasion of Normandy in 1944. The project was known
as Operation PLUTO (Pipe-Lines Under the Ocean).
LIFE AFTER SIEMENS
In 1968, the board of directors made the decision
to close the Woolwich factory, rather than
sacrificing any of their other factories. This dealt
a devastating blow to the local community as it
was the largest employer in the borough, after
the closure of Woolwich Arsenal a year earlier.