NPL was founded in 1900 for "standardising and verifying instruments, for testing materials, and for the determination of physical constants." We are one of the oldest standardising laboratories in the world.
Now an established world-class centre of excellence, we maintain the UK’s primary standards of measurement, while simultaneously delivering innovations to improve prosperity and quality of life for those living in the UK. Almost 120 years since we were first established, we still remain true to our core mission.
Since its establishment, the research work at NPL has included all branches of physics, light, electricity and magnetism, radio communication, engineering, metallurgy, aeronautics and ship design. Some of the world’s most significant innovations have origins at NPL, including radar; packet switching, the forebearer of the internet; the ACE computer; and the caesium atomic clock.
Read our 'History of NPL' booklet
In 1902, HRH The Prince of Wales, the future King George V, used the words that have come to be accepted as the effective, if not formal, objectives:
HRH The Prince of Wales – 1902
Many of the world’s most renowned scientists have worked at NPL, including Robert Watson-Watt, Donald Davies, Alan Turing and Louis Essen
These pages are a tribute to the employees of the National Physical Laboratory who served in the Great War of 1914–1918
Bushy House was home to various notable historical figures before being offered to the Royal Society as a site for the National Physical Laboratory
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