Horstmann Controls is the UK’s leading designer
and manufacturer of controls for domestic heating
systems and advanced metering equipment, offering
a range of state-of-the-art solutions.
Established in 1854 as a manufacturer of timepieces,
Horstmann subsequently diversified into many areas
of precision engineering, even including the construction
of automobiles in their pioneering days.
Horstmann first became involved in energy control
products in the 1950’s and during the next two
decades developed an extensive range of central heating
programmers and time switches. When control technologies
migrated from Electro-mechanical to electronic designs,
Horstmann was at the forefront and has subsequently
established an excellent reputation for the high standard,
quality and reliability of its products.
Domestic products available from Horstmann range
from simple but effective mechanical programmers,
cylinder and room thermostats and valves through to
sophisticated electronic programmers that meet the
very latest building regulations criteria.
Horstmann is also a leading name in the Utilities
markets where the Company provides products for load
switching, measurement and control of electricity,
gas and water tariffs as well as complete turn key
Horstmann Controls is a member company of the Secure
Group, operating from state-of-the-art headquarters
and manufacturing base in South Bristol.
Horstmann Controls has achieved the quality standard
ISO 9001 and is approved by the Office of Gas and
Electricity Markets for the certification of electricity
The new Horstmann website was launched. This new site allowed the download of all product literature and gave a wealth of product and company information to assist in product specification. The ChannelPlus H47XL, four channel programmer was also launched. This was based upon the successful redesign of the ChannelPlus range of programmer and timeswitches and included all the updated features. A new generation of Real Time Clock Meters was introduced, this was a replacement for the popular M Series RTC meter and has improved features such as a long life, 20 year certification period, up to eight rates and has the option to be supplied as an import / export version.
June saw the introduction of the ThermoPlus PRT1 programmable thermostat. The innovative ThermoPlus room thermostat range was developed by Horstmann following research carried out by the National Energy Action charity (NEA) which identified problems with time and temperature controls fitted to Warm Front heating systems. In December the development of ChannelPlus Series 2 programmers and timeswitches was completed. The product range now has improved features such as a back-lit display, automatic clock and menu driven programming.
The DRT1 was introduced, along with the full wholesale distribution of the DRT2, to create a product range of low cost programmable and non-programmable thermostats. Plans were also drawn up to redesign the very successful ChannelPlus range of programmers and timeswitches to include new technical developments and features.
The CentaurStat 1 and 7 programmable thermostats were updated. The CentaurStat 7 includes features such as true seven day programming and six temperature setting per 24 hours.
In October the DRT2, programmable room thermostat was launched. This control complemented the demands of the consumer for a time and temperature control in one. The distribution of the DRT2 was limited to pre-determined outlets.
||Shortly after the move to Bristol and the acquisition of Meterlink, an opportunity arose for a Management Buy Out and this was finally completed in July 2001.
The business relocated from Bath to new purpose built premises in Bristol. As part of this relocation and after a complete review of the business processes, lean manufacturing techniques were introduced and some non-core manufacturing functions were outsourced. In December 2000, Horstmann acquired Meterlink International, a business with many years experience of supplying metering systems using power line carrier.
||Clayhithe plc (including Horstmann Group), was acquired by the measurement and controls group Roxspur plc.
The CentaurPlus Range was launched.
Interchangeable with the L&G RWB/ 2 and other makes.
Horstmann won the lion’s share of the British Gas business.
The INTACOM Communicating Meter was introduced.
This is a Radio Telemeter with 2 Way Communications provided via a telephone modem.
|| After 140 years of close family involvement, the Horstmann family sold their remaining interest in the business in 1994, and Horstmann Group became part of Clayhithe plc.
The ChannelPlus Range was launched.
Top of the range was the country’s first 3 Channel Programmer.
|| The RTM Radio Telemeter (Combined Radio Teleswitch and Multi-Rate
Meter) was launched.
Horstmann became a bona fide meter manufacturer.
One of few UK Companies with a license for self certification.
|| MRU System Series 3 was introduced to convert polyphase meters to multi-rate.
|| The Street Lighting Controls business was sold to a competitor - Royce
RTS2 Radio Teleswitch was launched.
It replaced RTS1, which suffered from technical and manufacturing difficulties. RTS2 out-performed all the competition, becoming brand leader.
The Centaur was launched. A simple low cost programmer for the contracts market.
The Centaurstat Programmable Thermostat was launched with a major contract to supply Eberle, Germany’s largest thermostat manufacturer.
|| Horstmann acquired a controlling interest in Serck Controls Ltd Horstmann Gear Group Ltd was re-named Horstmann Group Ltd.
The Electronic 7 Water Heating Control was launched.
1987 RTS 1 Radio Teleswitch was launched with an order for 60,000 from EMEB worth £21/2m.
MRU Multi-Rate-Unit System was launched with a contract from EEB worth £2m. It converted existing single rate meters to record up to 5 separate time-of-day rates.
|| The 527 7 day electronic programmer was launched.
The 525 was launched.
Horstmann’s first electronic programmer, the first 2 Channel Programmer Electronics allowed new competitors to enter the market.
The Economy 7 Quartz Range was launched
HEP was wound up, HTC taking over relevant products, including street lighting controls. Commercial products were discontinued. Other resources were absorbed into HTC.
|| The 425 Range was launched.
It was the first programmer based on ‘the British Gas Specification Back
Plate’, aimed to create service interchangeability.
Only Sangamo followed suit, with their ‘Set Range’.
Because of L&G’s massive installed volume, the ‘standard’ eventually
defaulted to the RWB/2 back plate - hence the Centaurplus
Recovery of the Tariff Switch Market.
EMEB led the field by putting all new domestic customers on Economy 7 unless they opted out.
Horstmann won an initial order for 50,000 switches. The market more than doubled from 30,000 in 1980 to 71,000 in 1981.
The Electric Water Heating Market correspondingly took off. Horstmann have dominated this market ever since.
|| Quartz Movements with battery reserve were introduced on ‘V’ tariff switches.
|| The Economy 7 Water Heating Control Range was launched.
The original version was based on a 424 synchronous movement and incorporated a German (AWE) clockwork run-back timer boost. It was housed in a Crabtree cooker box and designed to an Electricity Council Specification.
Horstmann Timers and Controls Ltd (HTC) was created.
It replaced the Instrument Division as part of a reorganisation, when the Company changed its name to Horstmann Gear Group Ltd.
Horstmann Engineering Products Ltd (HEP) was created to develop new Energy Conservation Products for Commercial applications. It also took over the Street Lighting Controls business.
HEP participated in the initial field trials for the Radio Teleswitch.
|| The 424 was introduced, replacing the 423. Largely the same but now plug-in.
Aish & Co. Ltd. in Poole were acquired by Horstmann, specialising in design and manufacture of Electrical and Electronic Marine Control Equipment. The Defence Market was good, and Aish made a significant contribution, offsetting the depressed domestic heating market.
Aish was then eventually sold in 1988.
||Birth of the Domestic Off Peak Electric Water Heating Market.
The Electrisave 9 was launched, followed by the Electrisave 10 - both using 423 Emerald modules.
The Instrument Division was created to give Horstmann’s Control Business a management identity.
The Oil Crisis.
Dramatic effect on new installations for electricity and oil heating.
Sales of Horstmann Programmers to oil boiler manufacturers fell from nearly 1,000/week to almost nil overnight, for several years.
The Tariff-switch market fell from 282,000 in 1973 to 29,000 in 1977. By 1980, Venner, Smiths Industries, Smiths Meters, AEG, GEC/Sonceboz and Landis & Gyr had all stopped competing for tariff timeswitches, leaving Horstmann and Sangamo with the residue.
The 8 hour White Meter tariff was introduced, with 1/2 price electricity at night.
|| The 423 Range was launched.
They were the first purpose designed programmers, halving the cost and causing considerable competitor panic!
Their modular construction made them ideal for OEM applications.
Horstmann dominated the market until Landis & Gyr launched the RWB/2 in the early ‘70s, stealing the Potterton contract.
(The Miniminder was the Potterton version of the RWB/2).
|| Horstmann developed the Potterton 411 Programmer and the original
They were the first programmers designed as focal points in the house.
Potterton were the trend setters and brand leaders.
The 411 was advertised nationally in the press and on TV.
This was the start of the UK Central Heating boom.
All Electricity Boards were now selling storage heaters.
The ‘V1 range was developed to control the new tariffs.
Horstmann were brand leaders throughout the ‘V’s life cycle, supplying nearly 50% of all tariff timeswitches over 30 years.
|| Horstmann developed ‘the metal box’ programmer.
This was a 2 circuit Street lighting switch (the’Q’), converted to give separate control over hot water and central heating (of industrial appearance, aesthetically best in the boiler house).
Veterinary Equipment was introduced with a Bloodless Castrator and a
unique spring action Earmarker.
The earmarker was very successful, the business being sold in the late ‘80s.
Another interesting post war product was The Horstmann Bee Cage - used for transporting queens by post and introducing them into the hive.
|| The birth of Horstmann’s Tariff Control Business.
Eastern Electricity Board introduced the first Off Peak Domestic Tariff. Horstmann sold a 20 amp timeswitch, with 36 hour spring reserve - the ‘Y’- to control the supply.
|| The birth of Horstmann’s Central Heating Control Business.
Gas controllers were adapted to fit on gas boilers to provide one of the first methods of timing central heating.
|| War production included:
mine switch clock
radio transmitter for direction finding
|| G Horstmann & Sons’ retail business in Union Street closed.
The slump caused diversifications into products such as:
gardening equipment (the Dandy Dibber)
mousetraps (contract with Woolworth's)
Main markets were in street lighting, gas ignition (3V glowcoil igniters used on gas lights, cookers and other appliances), general purpose time switches, and gauges
|| Newbridge Works was opened.
The property was owned by various members of the family - the block containing the Conference Room and Board Room consists of 2 houses once occupied by members of the Horstmann family.
The site covers about 4’/2 acres.
||Horstmann started making screw and limit gauges for military production, becoming a leading UK Gauge manufacturer until the business was sold in 1990.
|| 56, Walcot Street was acquired for gas controller manufacture.
The Solar Dial was patented.
This was the first dial which automatically altered ‘ON’ & ‘OFF’ times each day to follow the varying times of dusk and dawn through the year. It gave Horstmann a worldwide technical lead.
Foundation of The Horstmann Gear Company Ltd.
Sidney Horstmann (Gustav’s youngest son) designed an ingenious gear box for cars and motor cycles. It had an infinitely variable gear ratio - using expanding pinions. Sidney, together with his brothers Albert, Hermann, Otto, and brother-in-law William Edgar, amongst others, founded The Horstmann Gear Company Limited to exploit it.
Both the ‘shop’ and the new company were now at 10, Union Street.
The gearbox was not a success, but Sidney went on to make cars in his own business, also in Bath, producing about 1500 Horstmann Cars between 1913 and 1929, incorporating many novel features in them. Altogether about 10 still exist.
The gas controllers were now so popular, production was transferred from G Horstmann & Sons to The Horstmann Gear Company Ltd.
|| The birth of Horstmann’s Control Business. G Horstmann & Sons had now developed into a thriving retail and clock making business.
They developed a clockwork gas controller for automatic control of street-lighting - which was far superior to anything else - for a Mr W T Ellery of the Bath Gas and Coke Company.
|| Gustav died. By this time he had about 100 patents to his name.
|| Gustav Horstmann designed a self-winding clock and was granted a patent on his invention for “ A New or Improved Mode of Obtaining Motive Power, which Power can be used for Winding Clocks, Timepieces and other Mechanism, and also for Ventilating Hot-houses, Green-houses, and all Buildings where a Uniform Temperature is desirable.”
|| Gustav Horstmann invented the first micrometer to measure 1/10,000th of an inch reliably. The original is in the Science Museum, South Kensington.
|| Gustav Horstmann set up a clock making and retailing business (later G. Horstmann and Sons) in Bennet Street, Bath. He was a prolific inventor, and apart from his horological skills, a pioneer in measurement and thermostatic control.
|| Gustav Horstmann who was born 1828 in Westphalia, Germany, and studied in Paris under Dejean (a watchmaker from the school of the famous Breguet), emigrated to England.
He was the founder of the Horstmann family in Bath.