Ross Optical Ltd., Clapham, London – connection to G Falconer & Company, Watchmakers & Jewellers, Hong Kong

Our article, G Falconer & Company, Watchmakers & Jewellers, mentions that Falconer were the HK agent for Ross Optical Ltd, Clapham, London. The following information and images about Ross come from the excellent Grace’s Guide website, linked below.

Ross of Optical Works, 3 North Side, Clapham Common, London, SW4 (1922)

Ditto Address. Telephone: Battersea 3876-7. Cables: “Rossicaste, Phone, London”. (1929)

Ditto Address. Telephone: Macaulay 2472. Cables: “Rossicaste”. (1947)

1830 The Ross firm was founded by Andrew Ross in Wigmore Street, London.

c1840 Ross started making lenses for cameras. The lenses were engraved A. Ross, London. Ross had an early association with Carl Zeiss in Jena; Zeiss licensed some Ross patent designs particularly for EWA lenses and in turn Ross had a licence for the British Empire to make some Carl Zeiss lens types.

Zeiss built a factory in London, mainly to produce binoculars; some camera lenses also were produced.

1855 Ross also made some cameras, from about 1855 to the 1910s.

1858 Andrew Ross died, a year before the firm moved premises.

After Andrew died the firm was run by his son T. R. Ross, and the lenses were engraved Ross, London. J. H. Dallmeyer, who had married Ross’s second daughter, Hannah, inherited one third of his employer’s large fortune and the telescope manufacturing portion of the business.

1859 The firm moved to Brook Street with a sales department in New Bond Street.

WWI Ross took over Zeiss’s London factory at Mill Hill.

Ross Ltd Advert 1902 Grace's Guides

Advert 1902 Source: Unknown Courtesy: Grac’es Guides

1921 Charles Parsons acquired a controlling interest in Ross Ltd, of Clapham, where he improved the methods of glass-grinding.

1922 Listed Exhibitor – British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Cinematograph Projectors, Photographic Lenses, Lenses for Aeronautical Cameras, Photographic Cameras, Prism Field Glasses, Telescopes, Sporting, Military and Naval. (Stand No. G.61d) [1]

Ross Ltd Advert 1925 Grace's Guides

Advert 1925 Source: Unknown Courtesy: Grace’s Guides

1929 Advert in British Industries Fair Catalogue as an Optical, Scientific and Photographic Exhibit. Manufacturers of Photographic Lenses, Cameras, Prism Binoculars, Field Glasses, Opera Glasses, Telescopes, Terrestrial, Astronomical, Cinematograph Projectors, Search-light Arc Lamps, Equipment, Optical Lanterns, Aeronautical, Astronomical and Nautical Instruments, Lenses, Prisms of all kinds. (Scientific Section – Stand No. O.32) [2]

1937 Aero lenses, binoculars and telescopes. [3]

1947 Listed Exhibitor – British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of Cinematograph Projectors, Arc Lamps, Epidiascopes, Photographic Lenses, Binoculars, Telescopes, Scientific and Optical Instruments including Autocollimating Goniometer and Optical Benches and Special Optical Systems. (Olympia, Ground Floor, Stand No. D.1692) [4]

1948 Ross Ltd and Barnet Ensign Ltd were merged to form Barnet Ensign Ross Ltd. Clearly it was hoped that with the addition of Ross’s quality lenses to their existing range of cameras, B.E.R. would become a force to be reckoned with.

1954 Renamed Ross-Ensign Ltd; it produced classic 50s roll film cameras, like the Selfix and Autorange, which are still popular today with many collectors.

By 1955 Ross Ensign had moved production from Walthamstow to Ross’s Clapham Common factory, where they continued to produce cameras along with lenses and binoculars.

1961 the production of cameras ended but the company continued for some time to sell Ross optical devices such as binoculars or enlarging lenses.(1)


  1. Ross Ltd – Grace’s Guides


  1. Grace’s Guide to British Industrial history Grace’s Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in the UK. The scope is gradually being extended to include non-UK businesses and biographies. Additions are being made to the information daily by a team of volunteers who give freely of their time and expertise.

This article was first posted on 11th April 2020.

Related Indhhk articles:

  1. G Falconer & Company, Watchmakers & Jewellers – HK agent for Ross Optical Ltd, Clapham, London and Kelvin & Hughes, marine instruments, London
  2. Holga Cameras – Universal Optical Industry / Universal Electronics Industries – production information needed
  3. Fresnel Lenses – Barbier, Benard & Turenne – AGA and Waglan lighthouse…
  4. William S.T. Lee & Co (曉莊貿易) – the firm which brought Montblanc pens, Rodenstock glasses, Seiko watches, Ricoh cameras and Kenwood stereos to HK
  5. Behind the Shades: David Miao (繆德維 1912-2006) – the low-profile partner of George Ho behind many high-profile products (Minolta cameras and copiers, Philips radios …) and services (Commercial Radio, ABC Paging) in HK
  6. 36 TM Lee – creator of the HK made Holga camera
  7. Diana Cameras – Great Wall Plastics Factory 1955 – production information needed
  8. Holga Cameras – interview with TM Lee their creator

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