Although Sir Kenneth, his wife Betty, and John devoted
all of their spare time to assembling the Lumimeters, they could
still not keep up with the demand. Orders were pouring in from many
photographic dealers and it soon became obvious that something had
to be done to improve the situation. John decided to leave his job
at Villiers, to work full time in what was rapidly becoming the
The site of Merridale works.
|More and more orders kept on coming, and even
with John working full time they still could not satisfy the
demand. Sir Kenneth now decided that it was time for him to show
more commitment, and leave his job to work full time on the
project. They also decided to look for proper premises, and
found a small workshop which was available in the old Merridale
Works in Merridale Street.
||A very stylized drawing of Merridale Works that
was taken from an old trade directory.
Although the floor space was only about 27ft x 15ft,
the rent was quite cheap and so they decided to take it. The
business was formed into a Limited Company with the two brothers as
directors. Sir Kenneth was Managing Director, John was Technical
Director, and Betty was Company Secretary. They soon started their
first two employees who were Mrs Florence Abbiss and Mr Reg Simmons.
K.G. Corfield Ltd was an immediate success. During 1949 they sold
|With the success of the Lumimeter thoughts
naturally turned to other products. Sir Kenneth had the
inspiration, and many of the ideas for the products that were to
follow, and John had the necessary design skills to make the
products a reality. The first was a hand-held split image
precision rangefinder called the Corfield Telemeter Rangefinder.
It was substantially built around a die-cast, cream stove
enamelled, aluminium case with black leathercloth panels. The
meter was held in place on the user's hand by a strong elastic
strap into which the fingers were inserted. The two images were
aligned by a lever on the right-hand side which moved a red
pointer across a distance scale. When the two images were
aligned the focus setting could be read from the scale. A very
bright image was produced due to the large size of the
rangefinder. Two versions were available, one with an imperial
scale of 3 to 300ft and another with a metric scale of 1 to
||A Telemeter advert from 1950.
Part of the Telemeter user instructions. Courtesy of Paul
The Telemeter in use. Courtesy of Paul Kaye.
||The second new product was the Corfield Optical Exposure
Meter. It used a pattern of black circular dots, divided
into two halves of unequal brightness to measure the light
In use the film speed was set and the meter held to the
eye. The knob was rotated until the dots in the darker half
of the image disappeared, and the exposure time read from a
scale. This technique allowed accurate readings to be taken
in extremely low light levels. The instrument was well built
in a die-cast aluminium case with a black crackle finish.
||A 1951 advert for the new Corfield products.
||The Lumimeter was still selling extremely well,
but it required a lot of time and labour in its
construction, and so it was now time for a complete redesign.
The new version, the Lumimeter MK2 was not only easier to
manufacture, but was simpler and quicker to use and looked very
| It was easier to construct because it was
housed in a one-piece sheet metal body with plastic sides. All
that had to be done to assemble the case was to insert and
tighten a tie rod which held the sides in position.
In use the paper speed was set by rotating the pointer on
the front of the instrument, and the Lumimeter was moved on
the enlarger baseboard until the darkest part of the
negative could be viewed on a photometric spot in the centre
of its screen. The knob was then rotated until the spot
disappeared and the exposure was read from a scale. The
exposure scale was from 1 to 240 seconds, and the case was
finished in a smooth black wrinkle finish.
||It was launched in early 1951 and was an instant
success, appealing to both amateurs and professionals alike.
Within the next few years sales reached an incredible 200,000
||A 1951 advert for the new Lumimeter.
More darkroom products appeared with the introduction
of the Corfield Masking Frame and the Corfield 5 x 4in Contact
Printer. The masking frame was made of steel and sold for 12s.6d.
||The extremely compact 5x4 printer had a solid
die-cast aluminium case, and was indirectly lit by two 25 or 40
watt lamps for even illumination. Accurate timing of short
exposures was ensured by arranging the lamps to glow dull red
when not printing. A novel feature was that it was possible to
insert shading devices beneath the negative.
The contact printer was extremely robust and sold for
||The next product, one which had nothing to do
with the darkroom, appeared in 1952. It was the Corfield 2 x 2
Slide Projector. The slim die-cast body was finished in grey
crinkled enamel, and illumination was provided by a 250 or 300
watt lamp. Ventilation slots were incorporated in the top and a
Chance O.N.20 heat filter was positioned behind the slide. The
f3.7 four element lens had a focal length of three and three
quarter inches and was of excellent quality.
The selling price was £14.18s.6d for the 250 watt
version and £15.3s.6d for the 300 watt version. Sadly it got
rather hot after about half an hour, and didn't sell very well.
After a little while it was discontinued.
Corfields also became distributors for a range of
European photographic equipment including Stag timers, Omnica
carrying cases, Exakta cameras and Leidox cameras. Their wide
product range can be seen from the following entry in the
Wolverhampton Classified Industrial Directory of 1952:
K. G. Corfield Ltd
Products: Telemeter precision
rangefinders, enlarging exposure meters, all-metal masking frames
for enlargers, optical exposure meter for the camera, contact
printing equipment, photographic accessories, low-level illumination
photometers for light measurements in interiors, apparatus for
applied photometry, industrial applications of photocells (magic
eye) to colour tests and counting etc.
This product range was certainly impressive, but more
was yet to come!