2.7 Globalisation

The linking-up of the world since the 1990s is the second globalisation; what the telegraph was to the first globalisation, in the 188os [see next item], email has been to the second [see below, Internet]; the pre-eminent language has been the same in both globalisations - English [see English language]

First globalisation: the Victorian globalisation, which started around 1840 but really gathered momentum in the period 1880-1914, saw interconnectedness in terms of the flow of goods, capital and people, but also knowledge, culture and institutions, that was only surpassed in the late 1900s, during the era of the second globalisation; the Victorians annihilated distance with British technological advances, notably overland and undersea telegraph cables, steamships, railways – and the theodolites that produced accurate maps

Theodolite: Leonard Digges (c1515-c59) invented the theodolite in the 1550s, as well as being a pioneer of the telescope [see Telescope]; Digges’s son Thomas (c1546-95) was master surveyor on the improvement of sea defences at Dover Harbour in 1583, sixteenth-century England's greatest civil engineering project and its most successful, with few days lost to bad weather, no fatalities and harmonious teamwork on a grand scale; the first modern theodolite was made by Jesse Ramsden (1735-1800) in 1787

Shipping firsts: (selected) iron boat (1787), purpose-built lifeboat (1790), commercial steamship (1802), propellor-driven mechanically powered ship (1838), iron warships (1839), modern ship (i.e. iron-hulled steamship driven by propellor, 1843; this was Brunel's SS Great Britain), steamship circumnavigation of the world (1847), tramp steamer (1852), oil tanker (1863), steam trawler (late 1800s), oceanography expedition (1872-6), turbine vessel (1894), turbine merchantman (1901) & turbine liner (1904) [see Islanders afloat]

Isambard Kingdom Brunel: Brunel (1806-59) is Britain’s most famous engineer and the most daring; he was truly one of the all-time great engineers, along with John Harrison (marine chonometer), Henry Maudsley (mechanical engineering) and Henry Royce (of Rolls-Royce); Brunel was born at 1 Britain Street, Portsmouth; Clifton Suspension Bridge; Great Western Railway; SS Great Britain, 1843; this magnificently named shop was the first modern ship, being an iron-hulled steamship driven by propeller – not paddle wheels as in Brunel’s first steamship, the wooden SS Great Western of 1838; his SS Great Eastern of 1858 was an iron sailing steamship which could carry 4,000 passengers round the world without refuelling; Brunel called this vast vessel his ‘Great Babe’; SS Great Eastern was the world’s first modern ocean liner (the word ‘liner’ comes from the packet ships that sailed the ocean one after the other, in a line); Brunel also played an outstanding role in the development of the railways [see Railway] and in civil engineering; he has a British university named after him

“We probably have the greatest heritage in the world in terms of inspirational individuals. Look at Brunel: he created tunnels, bridges, ports, ships. I mean, the breadth of that ambition – and we should be creating in that spirit.” (Lord Norman Foster, architect, interviewed on Made in Britain, BBC 2, 7 October 2012)

Train travel: railways were established by British engineers in France, Italy, Belgium, Russia, Argentina etc; by 1900 Britain had laid over 24,000 miles of track in India alone and supplied steam locomotives and inspiration to the world [see Railway]

Steam turbine: invented in 1884 by Charles Parsons; this involved direct rotary action rather than a reciprocating piston, giving a new lease of life to the steam engine; Parsons’s Turbinia of 1897 was the first turbine-driven vessel, making an unheard-of 35 knots at a famous Spithead Review, in front of an astonished Royal Navy; to this day steam turbines in coal-fired power stations drive economies worldwide

Gas turbine: John Barber, 1791; modern gas turbine engine, Frank Whittle, 1930; turbojet aircraft engine  - i.e. internal combustion ‘jet engine’ - also in 1930 and also by Frank Whittle, who was a trained pilot and an inventor of genius; Rolls-Royce started making aero engines at the start of the First World War and are still making jet engines and gas turbines in the 21st century; after a transfer authorised in 1946, Rolls-Royce Nene and Derwent jet engines – and also Russian copies thereof – powered Soviet jet aircraft, notably MiGs over the skies of Korea in the 1950s; the Nene engine in particular went worldwide

Diesel engineRudolf Diesel's prototype machine roared into life in 1893 on the southern side of the Channel, yet in 1892 Richard Hornsby & Co had made the world's first compression ignition engine, in Britain, to a design by Herbert Akroyd Stuart

Postage stamp: Rowland Hill’s simple flat-rate (‘Penny Post’) system for mail to reach anywhere in Britain, 1840; this was a communications superhighway before the telegraph, the telephone, radio, television and the internet; the first adhesive stamps were the Penny Black and Twopenny Blue; in recognition of Britain’s invention of the postage stamp, Britain is the only nation to issue stamps not bearing the country of origin; Stanley Gibbons, born in the same year as the Penny Black, invented stamp collecting in the late 1800s


Fax machine: Alexander Bain, 1843 (in 1840 he had invented the electric clock)


Telegraph: Francis Ronalds, 1816; William Cooke and Charles Wheatstone patented the first practical electric telegraph in 1837; first cross-Channel cable, 1851; William Thompson – Lord Kelvin – developed the first working transatlantic telegraph cable; a durable undersea cable was made possible by rubber-like Malayan product gutta-percha; Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s SS Great Eastern laid the first successful transatlantic telegraph cable in 1866; by 1880 there were 97,568 miles of submarine cable, the vast majority laid by Britain as an imperial information network, a century before the internet; an early demonstration of the technology was in the Anglo-Abyssinian War of 1868, precipitated by a hostage crisis involving the seizure of British citizens in Abyssinia, modern-day Ethiopia; on telegraphed orders from London to British India, General Sir Robert Napier gathered together an invasion force that included elephants, for engineering and carriage purposes; after sailing to Africa, Napier marched his army 400 miles over desolate mountain terrain to assault the Abyssinian Emperor’s stronghold at Magdala; the attack went in during an apocalyptic thunderstorm with total success; the British hostages were rescued with no casualties among them

World’s oldest telecommunications company: this is BT, formerly British Telecommunications (‘British Telecom’), which traces its origin to 1846; William Cooke, the telegraph pioneer, was a founded of the Electric Telegraph Company in 1846, the world’s first telecommunications company; BT is directly descended from this pioneering venture; BT describes its own origins thus:

'BT is the world's oldest communications company, with a direct line of descent from the first commercial telecommunications undertaking in the world. The Electric Telegraph Company incorporated in 1846, was the first anywhere to develop a national communications network exploiting leading edge telegraphy technology. Within ten years an international network had been developed, making communications possible within minutes and hours instead of days and weeks. The consequences for every aspect of society were dramatic and profound.' [Source: Personal communication, BT archivist]

Telephone: invented by the appropriately surnamed Alexander Graham Bell, a Scot working in America, 1876; incorporated first electrical loudspeaker; the telephone revolutionized communications; The Telephone Company was founded to market Bell’s patented telephone; this was the first telephone company in the UK (BT is directly descended from this company); in 1879 The Edison Telephone Company of London (another BT ancestor) to commercialise the patented telephone technology of Bell’s American rival Thomas Edison; it merged with The Telephone Company in 1880 and the merged entity was nationalised in 1912 into Britain’s Post Office (PO); among many BT firsts were the first digital telephone exchange, 1968, the first purpose-designed submarine optical fibre cable (Loch Fyne, Scotland, 1980) and Skyphone, 1989, the world’s first satellite telephone communications system (on a British Airways passenger jet)

Radio: pioneered in the UK by W H Preece, Chief Electrician of the Post Office, from the 1880s; he supported the Italian Guglielmo Marconi, a radio inventor, organiser and system builder; an early simple receiver was that of Oliver Lodge, 1892; George Kemp, a PO engineer working under W H Preece, sent the first messages from the shore to the Mumbles lifeboat in South Wales, before shortly afterwards, on 18 May 1897, transmitting a radio signal from Lavernock Point, Glamorgan, 3.3 miles to Flat Holm Island in Cardiff Bay, with Marconi in attendance; Lord Kelvin sent the first telegram by wireless in 1898; Marconi achieved the first transatlantic wireless transmission in 1901, from Poldu in Cornwall to Newfoundland; the development of radio before the First World War was intimately tied to navies, with the Royal Navy being the largest single customer of the British-based Marconi Company, which led the world in this technology; the first two-way transatlantic telephone conversation occurred in 1926, courtesy of BT of Britain and a US collaborator; the world’s first commercial radio telephone service was that of BT in 1927; ‘radio’ also refers to the apparatus for receiving broadcast signals; Trevor Baylis designed and patented a clockwork (hand-cranked) radio in 1989 and it went into commercial production in 1994 in South Africa; the even more useful wind-up torch appeared later, also mercifully battery-free; hand-cranked and magneto-powered devices have a history going back to the early 1900s, but Trevor Baylis recreated the market for them

Electronic components: some of the most advanced designs for microprocessors in the twenty-first century are those of ARM, based in Cambridge; chips manufactured to ARM's low-energy designs are to be found in the majority of the world's mobile phones and handheld computing devices; the first-ever electronic component was the vacuum diode ('thermionic vlave', 'diode rectifier') of John Ambrose Fleming, 1904; this is an air-evacuated tube with two electrodes, hence diode; the vacuum diode was used as a rectifier of alternating current and as a radio wave detector; it was the basis of radio, television, large telephone networks and myriad other electronic devices; Fleming was thus the father of electronics; the vacuum diode was a distant cousin of the Crooke’s tube

Computer: Britain has made many pioneering contributions to the signature technology of the modern world; the grandfather of the computer was Charles Babbage (1791-1871) and the world’s first computer programmer and theoretical computer scientist was Ada, Countess of Lovelace (1815-1852), who worked with Babbage [see also Technology]; Babbage’s unfinished Difference Engine of the 1820s and 30s is regarded as the first mechanical calculator; in 1873 Lord Kelvin fully realised Babbage’s vision of machine calculations with a mechanical tide-predictor; Babbage’s design of 1834 for an Analytical Engine featured punch-card processing, a memory and a central processor; if built it would have been the first mechanical computer; in the event the first mechanical computer was used for gun targeting on British warships during the First World War; during the Second World War, in 1943, a PO/BT research team led by Tommy Flowers designed and constructed Colussus, the world’s first programmable electronic digital computer; this was at Dollis Hill Research Station, North London; the apparatus was dismantled and moved to Bletchley Park, to assist with wartime codebreaking; Colussus performed calculations using vacuum tubes, themselves the first electronic components, invented in 1904 by the father of electronics, John Ambrose Felming; Alan Turing (1912-54), the father of computer science and artificial intelligence [see Alan Turing], worked at Bletchley Park during the war, going on to help Freddie Williams and his team in Machester build the first stored-program computer to operate, in 1948; it was nicknamed ‘Baby’; this was capable of the key task of conditional branching, in which operations are carried out only if some condition is met; EDSAC at Cambridge, in 1949, overtopped the Manchester machine in capability, leading some to see it as first serious stored-program computer; in 1950 Britain’s National Physical Laboratory completed the Pilot ACE (Automatic Computing Engine), a small-scale programmable computer, based on the ideas of computer genius Alan Turing; being compact and flexible, and for a time the fastest computer in the world, it was the precursor of the modern personal computer (PC); with upgrades it went into service in late 1951, being used for example by the Ordnance Survey to prepare maps of Britain from aerial photographs; the Ferranti Mark 1, earlier in 1951, was the world’s first commercially available general-purpose computer, based on Manchester’s machine; LEO was the world’s first business computer, from J Lyons & Co, tea shops, 1951; Boolean algebra is the basis of modern computer logic; it was devised by George Boole (1815-64), who was thus (unwittingly) one of the founders of computer science; it is a historical curiosity that the mathematics to operate the computer were delivered up by Britain before the computer was invented; the first laptop was the US-manufactured GRiD Compass, designed in London by Bill Moggridge [Source: Robertson]; the world’s first instantaneous translation of speech by computer was unveiled at BT’s Martlesham research laboratory in 1987; Britain made key contributions to the development of the internet [see below, Internet]

'The first functional electronic computer – the earliest in regular use for practical applications – was Colussus I…The first test run at Bletchley Park took place on 8 December 1943. Colussus I was not programmable. The first programmable computers were the ten 2,400-vacuum-tube Colossi II that followed…The first machine became operational on 1 June 1944…projects on the other side of the Atlantic to build stored-program computers at Manchester University and Cambridge University came to fruition before the completion of EDVAC [in the US]. First to actually run programs was…the Baby Mark I built…as a test-bed for their more ambitious project, the Manchester University Mark I. The Baby ran…on 21 June 1948, marking the inception of computer software…The Manchester Mark I, with a much enchanced specification, was working by April 1949 and it was this machine that was later manufactured by Ferranti as the first commercially produced computer…[the] first Ferranti Mark I…was installed [in February 1951] by Mary Berners-Lee, mother of World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee [see Internet], who has proudly proclaimed his parent “the first commercial computer programmer.” ' [Source: Robertson]

Parabolic satellite dish: Goonhilly Down, Cornwall, 1962; this was another world first for BT; it was called Arthur, with Guinevere following a decade later; Arthur, which became the standard for satellite traffic, carried the first telephone call to be transmitted by satellite; this was from London to New York, the signal going via the Telstar satellite; also in 1962 Goonhilly became the first station to satellite transmit colour television; Goonhilly remains among the world’s biggest satellite stations

Photography: literally, photography means ‘writing by light’; a rudimentary from of photography involves light entering through a hole in a wall into a darkened room (Latin, camera obscura), which casts an inverted image of the outside scene; this was first described in the West by alchemist John Peckham, 1279; silver salts darkening in the presence of light was first described by Heinrich Schultz in Germany, 1727; camera obscura silhouettes were first imaged transiently on paper treated with silver nitrate by Thomas Wedgewood (son of Josiah) & Humphry Davy, 1802; this is a candidate for the first-ever photograph; modern photography is reckoned a co-invention in 1839 by Louis Daguerre (1789-1851) of France and Britain’s William Fox Talbot (1800-77), with the latter’s negative-positive approach staying the distance; Frederick Scott Archer’s collodion process, 1851, was a further advance on Talbot; the first colour photograph ever was taken in 1861 by the renowned physicist James Clerk Maxwell, of electromagnetic equations fame; this Scot’s picture was of a tartan ribbon

Cinema & television: the first moving images were Eadweard Muybridge’s famous picture sequence of a galloping horse with all hooves at times off the ground, 1877, which settled a long-standing dispute on the subject; the first successful motion pictures anywhere were shot in Leeds by Louis Le Prince in 1888 [see Films]; this brilliant Frenchman, who lived and worked in the north of England and was married to an Englishwoman, used a single-lens movie camera of his own invention; his camera, which he patented, can still be seen in the National Media Museum in Bradford; Louis le Prince is thus the father of cinematography; others produced motion picture cameras later, including William Dickson in 1891; the world’s earliest colour motion films show Edwardian Britain and were shot by pioneer photographer Edward Raymond Turner (1873-1903), using red, green and blue filters [see Films]; George Albert Smith (1864-1959) developed the first successful colour film process, Kinemacolor, patenting it in 1906; he is regarded as the father of colour cinema; his was a two-colour (red-green) process; television was first publicly demonstrated in 1925 and colour television in 1927 by John Logie Baird; but his mechanical system lost out to electronic technology based on cathode ray tube as proposed by Alan Campbell-Swinton, 1908, and pioneered notably by Britain’s EMI, which included production of first practical television camera in the mid-1930s; Baird devised first video recording system, 1926, using wax discs; the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation, see BBC), founded in 1922, has been a technology and content pioneer in broadcasting and is the world’s most famous broadcaster; the BBC broadcast the world’s first regular high-definition television service, starting in 1936, from Alexandra Palace; the first cinema to have more than one screen was the Regal Twins in Manchester, 1930, which was a duplex [Source: Robertson]; in 1979 PO/BT launched Prestel, the world first Viewdata network, which became the basis of the first ever home computer banking service in 1980, in the US [Source: Robertson]

'Early television was low-definition (i.e. the screen image was composed of under 120 lines) and mechanical, meaning that both the camera and the receiver had moving parts that needed to be in synchronization. The development of all-electronic systems with no moving parts led to high-definition television, used by the first full-service stations inaugurated in Britain in 1936 (405 lines) and the United States in 1939 (441 lines)...The first television transmission of a moving image with gradations of light and shade was made by Scottish inventor John Logie Baird in his attic workroom at 22 Frith Street, London, on 30 October 1925...A research team, gathered together by EMI began experiments at Hayes, near London, under the direction of Russian-born Isaac Schoenberg in 1931...on 2 November 1936 the Marconi-EMI system, by then the most advanced in the world, came into regular operation with the inauguration of the BBC television service from Alexandra Palace, London...[Schoenberg] turned to his team and said: "Well, gentlemen, you have invented the biggest time waster of all time. Use it well." ' [Source: Robertson]

Aviation: the aeroplane concept was invented in the 1790s by George Cayley (1773-1857), the father of aviation; as a lad he watched gliding gulls, noting their non-flapping wings; he was the first to understand the principles and forces of flight; he realised that lift, propulsion and control were required to get a given weight aloft and drew up plans for a fixed-wing powered aircraft in 1799; he flew model glider in 1804, to which he added a propeller powered with twisted lengths of rubber; this would appear to represent the invention of the airscrew, as distinct from the development of ship's screw [see Francis Pettit Smith]; in 1809 Cayley published a breakthrough learned paper in three parts called On Aerial Navigation; in this he showed that a fixed wing aircraft with a power system for propulsion and a tail to assist in the control of the aircraft would be the best way for man to fly; Cayley wrote, “I feel perfectly confident, however, that this noble art will soon be brought home to man's general convenience, and that we shall be able to transport ourselves and families, and their goods and chattels, more securely by air than by water, and with a velocity of from 20 to 100 miles per hour. To produce this effect, it is only necessary to have a first mover, which will generate more power in a given time, in proportion to its weight, than the animal system of muscles.”; in the course of his pioneering aviation work, Cayley invented the tensioned spoke wheel; he developed it in the early 1800s to replace the compession spoke wheel; this historic reinvention of the wheel was intended to allow an aircraft to land, using rolling undercarriage, but the tensioned spoke wheel found its first major use in the bicycle [see Bicycle]; Cayley is also the father of the allotment [see Allotment]; John Stringfellow achieved unmanned powered flight in 1848, using an aircraft with a ten-foot wingspan and powered by a tiny steam engine; in 1849 a 10-year-old boy was taken aloft briefly in a full-size Cayley glider; Cayley’s coachman John Appleby (unwillingly) completed the first recognised flight in an unpowered heavier-than-air craft (i.e. aeroplane) in 1853; fifty years later the American Orville Wright courageously achieved first manned controlled powered flight in a heavier-than-air craft; referring to George Cayley, Orville’s brother Wilbur wrote, ‘About 100 years ago, an Englishman carried the science of flight to a point which it had never reached before and which it scarcely reached again during the last century’; first helicopter, 1905 [see Helicopter]; first aerodynamically stable aeroplane, J W Dunne, 1906-7; British pilots were first to take off from a ship underway (1912) and first to land on a moving ship (1917)[Source: Robertson]; the first purpose-built aircraft carrier was HMS Ark Royal, launched in 1914; the Royal Air Force, founded in 1918, was the world’s first independent air force; in 1919 Alcock and Brown achieved the first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic, in an open-cockpit Vickers Vimy biplane bomber; in July of the same year the first lighter-than-air translatic flight was made by British airship R34, commanded by Major George Scott; the first jet crossing was also by Britain, in 1948; first instrument-only flight, 1931, and first automatic blind landing, 1966; the Comet was the first jet airliner and Concorde was the first supersonic airliner; both appeared after the Second World War when mass tourism, itself invented by Thomas Cook in 1841, went aloft; 1920 had seen the first international daily air service for passengers, from London to Le Bourget; this had employed a converted First World War bomber; the service was operated by Aircraft Transport and Travel, from which was to evolve British Airways, 90 years old in 2010; radar detection of aircraft, pioneered in Britain in the run up to the Second World War and crucial in the aerial victory that was the Battle of Britain, plays a crucial role in air traffic control to this day; English is the international language of air traffic control; additional examples of aviation pioneering by Britain have been collected by Robertson [see Sources]:

- First strategic bombing raid by a formation of aircraft

- First aerial drop of propaganda leaflets

- First transport of troops by air

- First commercially built aircraft in series production

- First economy fares

- First airline meals

- First flight attendant

- First in-flight movie on a scheduled flight

- First jet airline service

- First airport hotel

- First airline mobile phone service (2008); Aeromobile system on Airbus A340 [Source: Robertson, personal communication]

- First in-flight high-speed internet access; offered by British Airways on London-NYC flights (2003)[Source: Robertson, personal communication]

[see Islanders aloft, Aircraft]

Container freight: the modern system of containerisation was born in 1926 with containers designed for motor transport by Hays Wharf Cartage, West Smithfield, London [Source: Robertson/Shell]

Internet: this is the signature technology of the second globalisation, which has run since the 1990s [see above, First globalisation]; there have been significant contributions to 'inter-networking' by Britons, such as the invention in the mid-1960s of packet-switching by Donald Davies, allowing computers to be connected to more than one other computer at a time by dividing up transmitted messages, and the invention in 1989 of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners Lee, allowing transfer of text, sound and images (Shakespeare: ‘Tis true; there’s magic in the web of it’); the internet has been a key feature of the second globalisation, from the 1990s, following the (British-led) first globalisation in the late 1800s

'The first Internet in its earliest incarnation was the Arpanet, a [US] project for linking computers in different scientific and research institutions so that they could "talk" to each other and benefit from the secure exchange of files...The principal obstacle to development of such a network was the time it took for lengthy messages to be transmitted from one computer to another and the consequent traffic buildup. The solution was found by Donald Davies of Britain's National Physical Laboratory, who worked out a method of breaking up messages into a number of short pieces that would be transmitted in turn with pieces of other messages. Called packet-switching [by Davies], it meant that a long program would not unduly delay the execution of a short one...As new networks began to proliferate, the search began for a method of linking them together - a network of networks, otherwise known as the Internet...The date that Arpanet changed over to TCP/IP working, 1 January 1983, is generally accepted as the birth date of the Internet as we know it today...The World Wide Web itself became operative in August 1991 when [Tim] Berners-Lee released his Web client, the line-made browser, and the server on the Internet for anyone to use freely.' [Source: Robertson]

The first international email was sent in 1973 from the University of Sussex near Brighton, to America by an American visitor [Source: Robertson]; the world's first webcam (i.e. a video camera linked to a computer network) was that 'of the Computer Laboratory at Cambridge University, England, in late 1991, trained on the lab coffee pot.' [Source: Robertson]

Early global enterprises

East India Company: this was founded in 1600 when Elizabeth I granted a company of 218 merchants a monopoly of trade to the east of the Cape of Good Hope; the Company was ultimately absorbed in 1874 into the British Raj, the Indian jewel in the British Empire’s crown

'The East India Company foreshadowed the modern world in all sorts of striking ways. It was one of the first companies to offer limited liability to its shareholders. It laid the foundations of the British empire. It spawned Company Man. And - particularly relevant at the moment - it was the first state-back company to make its mark on the world...Even when it had become the world's greatest commercial operation it remained remarkably lean. It ruled millions of people from a tiny headquarters, staffed by 159 in 1785 and 241 in 1813. Its management reiterated the importance of frugality, economy and simplicity with metronomic frequency...The Company repaid the state not just in taxes and tariffs, but also in ideas. It was one of the 18th and 19th centuries' great innovators in the art of government...It created Britain's largest cadre of civil servants, a term it invented.' (The Economist, 17 December 2011)

The East India Company represents an early example of the emerging-market state capitalism of the twenty-first century [see Privatisation]

Hudson’s Bay Company: HBC was founded by royal charter of Charles II in 1670; it was run from London and employed Orkneymen and other hardy souls, feeding North American furs into the European hat trade; at one time HBC was the largest landowner in the world, controlling one-twelfth of the Earth’s land surface; fur trading outposts became towns; HBC created modern Canada, which came into being as a country in 1867; no company in history has been so entwined with the development of any country in history as HBC has with Canada; Hudson’s Bay itself was named after Henry Hudson, who explored and mapped it in 1610

Bass beer: the red triangle symbol on this Staffordshire brewer's beer bottle labels is reckoned to have been the world's first logo; 'Bass Pale Ale' was registered as a trademark in 1876; this beverage is regarded as the world's first global brand [see Pub]

21st century enterprises

Telecoms: BT is the world’s oldest telecommunications company [see above, World's oldest telecommunications company]; Vodafone is one of the globe’s main mobile phone companies; in 2012 Vodafone took over Cable & Wireless, a British telecoms company dating back to the 1860s

Financial services: Lloyd’s of London is the heart of the world’s leading insurance market; it is the oldest and largest shipping insurance company in the world

Banking: Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds

Consumer products: Unilever

Art market: Sotheby’s is the world’s largest auction house, Christies the oldest; immense sums can be involved:

'In November, a glazed porcelain [Qing] vase discovered in a small house in a west London suburb sold for £51.6m ($83m), many times its top estimate, setting a record for a Chinese work of art at  auction.' (The Economist, 5 February 2011)

Engineering: Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, GKN (over 250 years old), chip designer ARM & chip producer Plessey, McLaren

Oil: BP, discoverer of Iran’s oil, inaugurator of Britain’s North Sea oil era and pioneer of Alaskan oil; Royal Dutch Shell

Pharmaceuticals: GSK, AstraZeneca

Retail: Harrods, Tesco, M&S

Creative & media: BBC, The Economist, Natureoo7, Wallace & Gromit, Harry Potter, Adele [see Language & culture]

Drinks: Diageo is the world’s leading company in this sector, with brands such as Johnnie Walker whisky, Smirnoff vodka and Guinness stout

Airlines: British Airways, Virgin

Private schools: Many of the finest such institutions in the world are to be found in Britain, accessed by a global clientele

Others 21st century enterprises: Pilkingtons is world’s largest flat glassmaker, having pioneered the float glass process; Ladbrokes is the world’s biggest bookmaker

© The National CV Group 2013
All Rights Reserved



History in the news
About Us
Contact us
Island, Sea & Sky
Agriculture & Gardens
More Technology
Freedom & Democracy
Empires & Wars
Language & Culture
Sport & Leisure