Our UK history
In the UK since 1843
Siemens can trace its history of innovation in the UK back to 1843 when a 19 year-old apprentice, Wilhelm Siemens, travelled from Berlin to London to sell a patent for his brother Werner’s electro-magnetic plating process. The sale was a success and in 1850 Wilhelm took over the Siemens & Halske agency in London. That moment 170 years ago marks the founding of Siemens in the UK.
In 1859 Wilhelm, determined to make his home in the UK, married a Scot, Ann Gordon. He took British citizenship on the day of his engagement and changed his name to Charles William Siemens. Ann was to play an active part in Williams’s career and was influential in William’s life as an entrepreneur and engineer at the heart of Britain’s first Industrial Revolution.
In 1863 Siemens opened its first UK factory in Woolwich, to produce submarine cables. In 1869 Siemens laid the Indo-European telegraph line which ran nearly 7,000 miles from London to Calcutta, a tremendous feat of endeavour and engineering. The line enabled messages that had previously taken many days, to be conveyed in less than half an hour.
William and Ann had a happy marriage until William’s death at the age of 60 in 1883, just a few months after he was knighted by Queen Victoria for services to British engineering.
The company William founded in the UK went on inspite of sequestration during the two World Wars, reopening UK operations and growing to be a major UK employer and manufacturer, now at the forefront of the fourth Digital Revolution, Industry 4.0. William’s spirit and ethos of innovation continues to thrive.
The timeline below shows key points in Siemens' presence in the UK.