Ilford Limited


I started out writing a web site about the photofinishing industry in Great Yarmouth in the 1960s and 1970s but have turned into a side street and created this web site as I believe there is a story to be told about Ilford Limited and the photofinishing equipment they manufactured. In the 60s I worked for C A Chadwick Limited of The Conge, Great Yarmouth and they had Ilford and Kennington and Bourlet badged machines. The K&B machines were distributed by Ilford Limited. At the time I believed all Ilford photofinishing  units were manufactured by K&B, but my recent researches have indicated that Ilford had their own electronics laboratory that was established in 1947 by Robert Hercock. Hercock later co wrote "Silver By The Ton" a history of Ilford Limited 1879-1979 with George Jones. This publication makes no reference to Kennington and Bourlet at all. However in the lists of the company's products Kenprint paper is shown as being introduced in 1955. Another smaller publication by Ilford Limited called  "A history of invention and innovation Ilford 1879-1979" written in their centenary year again makes no reference to K&B but does show the colour paper processor at Basildon. K&B seem to have been written out of the company's history; why?
Take a look at Maurice Fisher's excellent web site Photographic Memorabilia especially the Ilford Chronology to see key dates in Ilford Limited's history.

Before WW2 Ilford was mainly involved in the manufacture of sensitised materials. During the war restrictions prevented any research into colour materials. However after the war Ilford made great strides and launched their colour slide film in 1948 with only 3 years development work. They also diversified into camera distribution and started to manufacture photofinishing equipment. In addition they acquired several photofinishing businesses.

Black and white D&P was big business in the 1950s and early 1960s. I know of two photofinishers in Great Yarmouth in the 1960s that had a complete K&B/Ilford equipped processing facility. I believe that K&B made their Kenprinters, Kennington paper processor and companion glazer  but Ilford made the Roll Head Printer and the Ilford N Printer along with the Ilford badged roll film processors and drying tunnels themselves, Les Dutfield has confirmed this. In addition specialised colour processing and printing equipment was constructed by Ilford Ltd themselves for use in their own processing laboratory. Jack Coote was appointed by Ilford in 1952 to create printing facility for the Ilford Colour Slide films.

Jack Coote and Philip Jenkins read a paper to the RPS Scientific and Technical Group at the Royal Society of Arts in London on 10th and 11th December 1959 that revealed that Ilford Ltd had made their own printers for their colour transparency printing service in association with another subsidiary; Kennedy Instruments. Kennedy Instruments are better known for the Ilford Advocate 35mm camera that they made for Ilford Ltd. At the same symposium Dennis Neale and D.S. Reid of Ilford Limited described a revolutionary device for the duplication of colour transparencies. The apparatus projected a television raster onto the original that was in contact with the duplication film. This gave a degree of contrast control that softened the image so that a good duplicate could be obtained. This paper entitled "An Electronic Tone Masking Printer for the Duplication of 35mm Colour Transparencies" was also subsequently published in the RPS Journal of Photographic Science.

When Ilford introduced their Ilfacolor colour negative material in 1960 initially in 120 and 620 sizes only, they developed the printers and processors themselves for use in their own purpose built processing laboratory at Basildon. Although one of the printers for 35mm negatives used a card mounted feeding system developed from the above transparency printer by Walter Kennedy the majority of the development work was done by Ilford Limited. The Monopolies Commission Report published in 1966 indicates that K&B had developed colour equipment for independent photofinishers but by 1966 K&B were in voluntary liquidation.

So there are still lots of unanswered questions; what where these machines developed by K&B? Although a paper was presented to the British Institution of Radio Engineers by Jack Coote, Dennis Neale and Tony Large in 1963 about the techniques and machines to print 35mm Ilfocolor negatives there is no mention of the printers they used to print the roll film sizes beside the 35mm film that they also marketed and processed at the new Basildon facility. So what did Ilford use to print other the 120/620/127 negative sizes?

So I offer this web site as a starting point for any discussion regarding Ilford's photofinishing gear. If you have any ideas about these unanswered questions please do email me I would love to know more to complete the jigsaw. If anybody has a photographs of any Ilford Ltd or Kennington & Bourlet  photofinishing gear I would love to see them or even better if anyone has any piece of this equipment I would love to see it. Likewise with any memories or reminiscences please do get in contact. In the mean time I will get back to my original project of the Great Yarmouth photofinishers site.