Pye Engineering Services

Pye Engineering Services factory and delivery van in St Andrews Road, Cambridge

Pye Engineering Services (PES)

Pye Engineering Services Exhibition Stand

Pye Engineering Services Exhibition Stand

Prototyping Department at PES

Loading another delivery of TV chassis for Pye Lowestoft

Company Introduction


1960 – 67 Initially based in the old WG Pye premises on the corner of Newmarket Road and East Road, Cambridge

1967 – 1979 St Andrews Road, Cambridge

Date Formed

Formed in 1960, made into a separate company in 1962

Date Closed

June 1979

Field of Activity

Manufacture of metal parts, tools and models. e.g. TV chassis

Markets Served

Predominantly Pye Companies, especially Pye Lowestoft and Pye Telecom. Some limited third party work, including some export sales (e.g. Norway).

Products/Services Supplied


Toolmaking and Design (Toolroom & Drawing Office)

Prototype Development (Model Shop and Design Office)

Mechanical & Welded Assemblies

Printed Circuit Boards & Silk Screening

Finishing (Electroplating, Enamelling etc)


At the time of the move to the East Road site in 1960, when it was part of Pye Telecom, it employed 30 people.

This figure rose to about 200 during the time at the East Road site.

After the move to St Andrews Road and the amalgamation with activities there, it rose to nearly 500 at its peak, then declined as business fell away, with some 300 at the time of closure (1979)

Managerial Staff

Managing Director – Jim Langford (for the lifetime of the company)

Other Original Boards Members

John Stanley

Alf Clarke

Charles Harmer

Senior Staff

Reg Brown – Works Manager at East Road

Ronald Laurence – who designed the Flow Solder machine

John Prior – Works Manager at St Andrews Road

Reg Shepherd – Personnel Officer

Key Customers and Activities

Pye Lowestoft: Chassis for the TV factory – 2 deliveries per day. One van went in the early morning, the other left at 1.00pm. PES also provided a model shop

Pye Telecom: PES was one of two main suppliers of mechanical parts (the other being P & H Engineering of Huntingdon). It supplied a wide range of metal parts - cabinets, 19-inch racks, equipment cases and lids, equipment chassis, etc. Given the success of Telecom’s products in the 1960s and 1970s, PES would have been very busy supplying the parts (as an example, Telecom manufactured over 120,000 Pye Westminsters during the 1960s and 1970s, each containing parts made by PES)

In the main, PES used conventional equipment – machines for milling, grinding, drilling and pressing etc. and there was not a lot of investment in automation. An exception, of which Jim Langford is proud, was the acquisition of Wiedermann Turret Presses. These hole punching machines were purchased to produce batch quantities with low tooling costs. Using in-house skills, PES subsequently built their own equivalent machines.

With its own design and drawing offices, PES also produced tools, models and one-off components for its customer companies.

Machine Shop at PES

Machine Shop at PES

Notes from a conversation with the Managing Director, Jim Langford in 2016/2017 by Roger Crabtree

Pye had had a machine shop and tool room in Granta Works (later known as Cambridge Works) for many years, certainly since the mid 1930s when Jim Langford and Wally Chamberlain first started work as toolmaker apprentices. The Works Manager at that time was Laurie Jones (‘LW’), and, according to Jim, the Managing Director was Ernie Root.

In those early days the machine shop made things like rivets, nuts, and bolts; Jim Langford estimates the machine shop employed 12 people when he first started in 1937. These activities expanded as Pye grew and more products were sold. When new Pye companies were formed, they also needed a toolroom and machine shop.

This happened to the fledgling Pye Telecom in 1948. Jim Langford was appointed Engineering Manager, and with 12 employees, he moved into the largely vacant premises in Newmarket Road. (The factory had been a gas mask factory during the war). Pye Telecom development was still in a Nissan hut behind the boiler house on St Andrews Road.

As Pye Telecom grew, so did the Engineering Department (machine shop, toolroom and model shop) until eventually it employed some 80 staff and occupied most of the third, back, bay at the Newmarket Road site (which Telecom people knew as Ditton Works).

Jim Langford relates the story of how there was a major fire on Bourn Aerodrome, which partially destroyed many MoD tools, which were stored there by Telecom on behalf of the MoD. The Ditton Works Engineering Department restored many of these. The date of this fire is not known.

During the 1950s Granta (Cambridge) Works retained its own machine shop and toolroom, as did Pye Unicam and Magnetic Devices at Newmarket.

By 1960, Pye Telecom was fast expanding and space at their Newmarket Road factory became pressing. Premises previously occupied by WG Pye’s separate scientific instrument business located at the corner of Newmarket Road and East Road (where Elizabeth Way roundabout now is) had become available. This was because the WG Pye activity had recently been acquired by the Pye Group and was moved to join with Unicam Instruments on the new York Street site.

In 1960 CO Stanley decided to move the Engineering Department of Pye Telecom to this site and set it up as an independent organisation to provide engineered parts to other Pye companies, not just Telecom. The machine shop and toolroom at Granta (Cambridge) Works was not merged with this initially, nor were those at Pye Unicam or Magnetic Devices.

In 1962 the Engineering Department became a limited company called Pye Engineering Services Ltd (PES) and Jim Langford became the Managing Director. His Directors were John Stanley, Charles Harmer and AG (Alf) Clarke. The aim was that PES, in addition to supplying Pye’s needs, would expand by obtaining orders from third party companies. Employee numbers expanded to around 200 by the mid-1960s.

In 1966 Jim Langford became responsible for the machine shop and toolroom on St Andrews Road as well as remaining MD of PES.

During 1967 PES was moved from the East Road site to St Andrews Road and at the same time the Machine Shop and Toolroom at Cambridge Works was merged into PES. The building was opposite the main Pye of Cambridge building (where later Telecom Systems department was located).

Jim Langford also became responsible for Site Services at St Andrews Road (site maintenance, catering etc). This lasted until 1970, when Pye appointed Colin Restell to run Site Services. Jim was also in charge of Banhams Boats, which was based on Mariners Way, just off St Andrews Road. He believes it was 1975 when he closed down Banhams.

Employee numbers increased to nearly 500 at its peak, but then declined to around 350. Attempts at gaining third party business were not really successful, despite the recruitment of a salesman.

In June 1979 Pye Engineering Services was closed down, with nearly 300 redundancies. The reasons for its decline were, in summary,

• New technology – plastics began to replace metal in cabinets, chassis etc e.g. TVs

• Philips decided to close Lowestoft, PES’s main customer, and the work it did for Telecom and other remaining customers was not sufficient to sustain the business

• Due to its buying power, Philips in Holland was able to buy sheet metal at far lower prices than PES could, so undercutting on price

• Philips was also keen to consolidate its European engineering services centrally in Eindhoven

• Despite employing a salesman, PES had not really had any significant success in obtaining third party business

Pye Engineering Services was closed and over the next year, the site was cleared ready for the move of Telecom Systems Department into its building.

It should be noted that the Pye Unicam Machine Shop did not merge with PES and continued as a part of Pye Unicam until it was eventually closed.

Some Memories from Jim Langford - MD of Pye Engineering Services

Jim Langford remembers his first meeting with CO Stanley

Jim Langford recalls CO trying to send him off to India

Jim Langford - when I was promoted to Managing Director!

Some Early Memorabilia of Pye Engineering Services

Jim Langford's Record Card from the 1930s

Jim Langford's Record Card from the 1930s

Early photograph of the Pye Machine Shop

Pye Engineering Services Brochure

(Please scroll the document up and down using the sidebar to read, or open on a separate page using the pop-out button in the top right corner)

PES Brochure 1.pdf