Wray (Optical Works)

Cintel’s optics were designed and manufactured by a company in Ashgrove Road Bromley, London called Wray Optical Works. The firm was founded in 1850 by William Wray who was actually a solicitor but like many gentlemen of that time was an enthusiastic amateur astronomer. This interest led him to make his own telescopes and to polishing his own lenses. By 1908 the firm was in a deep decline but was saved by a merger with the Aitchison Company well known for manufacture of prism binoculars. During WWI the company made substantial numbers of binoculars and photographic lenses for the Royal Flying Corps. The company was a key provider of prism binoculars, reconnaissance camera lenses and reflector gunsights during WWII. From 1942, for the next 16 years, the optical design was in the hands of Dr Charles Gorrie Wynne and he raised the optical design capability to a high level. However the competition from Japan in prism binoculars was growing severe and the company was looking for new markets.

In the middle of the 1960’s Wray was approached by Elliott Automation to complete the design of the optical system for the Head Up Display Elliotts was producing. The design was completed by Mr David Day who had joined Wray in 1950 with an MSc from the Technical Optics Dept of Imperial College and progressed to be Chief Optical Designer succeeding Dr Wynne. Mr Day also later designed optics for many Smiths Industries HUDs.

In July 1968 the Rank Organisation made a successful bid for Hilger & Watts and Rank Precision Instruments was formed to bring together Taylor, Taylor & Hobson, Pullin & Aldis and Hilger & Watts. In June 1971 Rank Precision Instruments shut the Bromley factory of Wray Optical Ltd and moved most of the plant to Kershaws in Leeds. Despite Wray holding contracts for Head Up Display optics Kershaws never made any and ultimately lost the business which was quite short-sighted of the Rank Organisation. It is of interest that Arthur William Smith (AWS) was in contact with Dr Laurence Pilkington, who had created a new optics factory at St Asaph in North Wales, and tried to place some of the Wray staff with them. AWS certainly became a consultant to PPE which may have some bearing on their success in winning business for HUD optics.