Celebrating our rich history from 1917 to the present day
2017 marks the centenary of Clement Clarke Limited.
Haag-Streit UK, along with sister companies; Clement Clarke International, John Weiss & Sons and Clement Clarke Holdings, are celebrating the long and varied history of Clement Clarke Limited with a special commemorative movie.
1917-2017 – The first 100 years
Our movie celebrates this exciting milestone by taking a journey from the company’s humble beginnings, through its major growth during the war years, and up to the modern day where it employs cutting-edge technology and adopts the latest in innovation to bring market-leading products to the ophthalmic and respiratory industries.
The 30-minute film can be streamed in-full (1.2 GB) by clicking on the 'watch the video' button below. You can view smaller chapters of the film further down the page.
Clement Clarke, the man
The film commences with the story of Clement Clarke Limited’s founder, Clement William Clarke. He played a huge role in developing the British ophthalmic, respiratory and telecommunications industries that we know today.
We hear how Clement quickly progressed his early career at George Spiller Dispensing Opticians. Then, after being discharged from the military, he established Clement Clarke Dispensing Opticians, and the company was born.
Moving forward through the 1920s, the movie explains how the British ophthalmic industry flourished despite widespread national unemployment. This was largely due to a partnership between Clement Clarke and leading surgeons, Edgar Fincham and H.H. Emsley and the production of the first British slit lamp.
Clement Clarke Dispensing Opticians was also growing rapidly and opened 10 new branches across the UK, along with a new factory, the Hanwell Optical Company, where they undertook prescription frame-making and repair work.
Clement Clarke set up his first eye clinic in Ealing, which was a precursor to the National Eye Service, and would later be used as a model for the NHS provision of ophthalmic services.
The film shows how the company produced a host of vital new products for the ophthalmic profession during the 1930s, including the development of the first Synoptophore.
We learn how the company diversified from optical products into plastic surgery following the boom in the development of synthetic plastics. The company also began producing plastic contact lenses.
After war was declared, the supply of German-made glass artificial eyes ceased, which resulted in the company developing a substitute - the first plastic artificial eye.
During this part of the movie, we discover how a new kind of innovative RAF flying goggle, the Mark4, was developed. The company then diversified into producing RAF oxygen masks for the rapidly-expanding squadrons.
Clement Clarke Limited's first association with respiratory equipment is then documented, with the development of an early inhaler, followed by a revolutionary new general anaesthetic machine, the Marrett Head. The company then worked with Lawrence A. Cox to develop a portable anaesthesia, the Airlene Inhaler.
Moving through the 1950s, we see the company relocate to Harlow to enable integration of the medical and aviation communications operations in a single factory.
The company also began a successful partnership with Dr B.M. Wright to produce the first portable peak flow meter.
Renewed MoD contracts, following the company’s production of oxygen masks with integrated microphones, led to the development of telecommunications headsets.
During this decade, Clement Clarke Limited becomes the UK distributor for Haag-Streit AG, adopting its World-class slit lamps, Goldmann tonometers and kinetic perimeter. The company also became one of Britain’s largest private optometry dispensing retailer outlets.
In this chapter, the film explains how sight testing services by opticians became a recognised Health Act. With the increased demand for spectacles, a huge programme of modernisation commenced at manufacturing subsidiary Hanwell Optical Company.
Throughout the 1960s, the telecommunications range of equipment was favoured by the MoD for use on ships and submarines. There was also growing use in airport ground control and civil aircraft.
The company also worked closely with Mr Alan Friedmann to develop the first visual field analyser, the Friedmann VFA.
In the 1970s we see the ophthalmic division of Clement Clarke Limited amalgamate with Airmed, and the company reform under the new name Clement Clarke International (CCI).
Prof. Perkins, a pioneer of modern glaucoma management, developed a hand-held applanation tonometer and partnered with CCI to launch the Perkins Mk 1 tonometer with immediate success.
The Peak Flow Gauge, a plastic device suitable for large-scale manufacture, was developed. The Mini-Wright Peak Flow Meter was also launched, becoming popular for its accuracy, affordability, and portability. Airlite headsets dominated the private flying market and the MoD was a major customer.
We also learn about the company's expansion with its purchase of John Weiss & Son Limited, designers and manufacturers of high-quality surgical instruments since 1787.
The movie focuses on the Perkins MK2 hand-held tonometer which became the number one portable tonometer in the UK ophthalmic market. We also see how production of the Synoptophore was moved to the company’s Harlow premises in order to improve the quality of the manufacturing process.
All of the company’s UK-wide dispensing optician stores were sold to the high street chain, Boots PLC, resulting in the formation of Boots Opticians, which immediately became the UK’s second largest retail optics chain.
CCI is purchased by the Haag-Streit AG optical group which was undergoing massive expansion – and the internationally-renowned Haag-Streit Group we know today was formed.
This chapter describes major product launches which took place during the 1990s, including the BA 904 portable slit lamp, which boasts dual-functionality of both handheld and traditional-style examinations.
With growth in peak flow meter sales, we see the company begin manufacturing the Mini-Wright to a large scale and acquire the popular Medix range of nebulisers.
We discover how the design of a disposable tonometer prism led to the launch of Tonosafe, a global success-story now sold worldwide in 137 countries. The 'gold-standard' Pelli-Robson contrast sensitivity chart was also created.
Moving into the present day, the film describes the separation between the ophthalmic, respiratory, and telecommunications divisions.
HS-UK focused on both its gold-standard Haag-Streit AG devices and its UK-manufactured products; the Perkins hand-held tonometer, BA 904 slit lamp, Synoptophore and Tonosafe.
CCI extended activity in 2002 by obtaining the Lifecare range of nebuliser products. Since 2010, CCI has filed 6 patents and published more than 30 pieces of scientific work about product developments.
Clement Clarke Communications attracted substantial interest by larger external companies and, in 2015, was sold to the Mel Group.
Our movie concludes with an overview of how the three companies - Haag-Streit UK, Clement Clarke International and John Weiss & Sons - continue to support Clement Clarke’s original vision. We see how Clement Clarke’s core principles are still at the heart of each organisation today, enabling them to continue to make a significant difference in the medical sector.