National physical laboratory, uk

National Physical Laboratory
Painting of the National Physical Laboratory in 2009
Type Laboratory
Proprietor Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Managed by Serco
Region Greater London
Address Hampton Road, Teddington, England
Postcode TW11 0LW

51°25′35″N 0°20′37″W / 51.42639°N 0.34361°W / 51.42639; -0.34361Coordinates: 51°25′35″N 0°20′37″W / 51.42639°N 0.34361°W / 51.42639; -0.34361

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is the national measurement standards laboratory for the United Kingdom, based at Bushy Park in Teddington, London, England. It is the largest applied physics organisation in the UK.


NPL is an internationally respected centre of excellence in measurement and materials science. Since 1900, when Bushy House was selected as the site of NPL, it has developed and maintained the primary national measurement standards. Today it provides the scientific resources for the National Measurement System financed by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. NPL also offers a range of commercial services, applying scientific skills to industrial measurement problems, and manages the MSF time signal. The NPL cooperates with professional networks such as those of the IET to support scientists and engineers concerned with areas of work in which it has expertise.

Teddington was also home to the UK National Chemical Laboratory but this was closed in 1965 and some of its work was transferred to NPL.

Administration of the NPL was contracted out in 1995; it is now operated by Serco. Under this regime, overhead costs have been halved, third party revenues have grown by 16% per annum, and the number of peer-reviewed research papers published have doubled.[1]

A new state-of-the-art laboratory for NPL at Teddington was completed in 2007.


Researchers who have worked at NPL include Donald Davies, who was one of two independent inventors of packet switching in the early 1960s;[2] D. W. Dye who did important work in developing the technology of quartz clocks; Louis Essen, who invented a more accurate atomic clock than those first built in America. Others who have spent time at NPL include Harry Huskey, a computer pioneer; Alan Turing, one of the fathers of modern digital computing who was largely responsible for the early ACE computer design; Robert Watson-Watt, generally considered the inventor of radar, Oswald Kubaschewski, the father of computational materials thermodynamics and the numerical analyst James Wilkinson. H.J. Gough one of the pioneers of research into metal fatigue worked at NPL for 19 years from 1914-38. The inventor Sir Barnes Wallis did early development work there on the "Bouncing Bomb" used in the "Dam Busters" wartime raids.[3] Sydney Goldstein and Sir James Lighthill worked in NPL's aerodynamics division during WW2 researching boundary layer theory and supersonic aerodynamics respectively. Dr.Clifford Hodge also worked there and was engaged in research on semi conductors

Directors of NPL

Gallery of NPL buildings


External links

  • NPL Website
  • NPL Video Podcast
  • Second Health in Second Life
  • NMS Home Page
  • NPL YouTube Channel
  • NPL Sports and Social Club
  • profile of the National Physical Laboratory
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