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Celebrating 75 Years of Innovation

From a small-town shop to a global photonics leader, Gooch & Housego has evolved over seven and a half decades through the hard work of employees, a series of smart product developments and strategic acquisitions

A few G&H milestones...

  • 1948

    Archie Gooch and Leslie “Les” Housego establish Gooch & Housego in Ilminster, where they began manufacturing scientific optical components and crystalline materials.

  • 1980

    G&H launches the acousto-optic Q-switch, which transformed the company into a leader in active crystal components and revolutionized modern materials processing and manufacturing.

  • 1995

    G&H makes its first acquisition (of 18 total to date) by purchasing Optronic Laboratories in the United States, an instrument company that produced spectrophotometers.

  • 1997

    Gooch & Housego is listed on the London Stock Exchange's Alternative Investments Market (AIM)

  • 2006

    G&H wins a Queen's Award for Enterprise for selling over 70% of its products overseas and for increasing its overseas sales by £2.5 million to over £6.7 million per year in three years.

  • 2008

    G&H headquarters move from the town centre of Ilminster to a new purpose built factory on the edge of the town (Dowlish Ford). G&H launches its Fiber-Q acousto-optic modulator, offering customers a reliable, compact, and cost-effective solution.

  • 2016

    G&H is awarded the Queen's Award for Enterprise in Innovation for the introduction of the Fiber-Q, which transformed fiber laser systems technology.

  • 2021

    On February 18, the Perseverance rover lands on Mars, which contains a G&H AOTF. G&H also launches their Optical Systems Innovation Hub in a brand-new facility in St Asaph, UK.

  • 2022

    On December 5, a Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) team achieves successful fusion ignition. This historic achievement was in part made possible by G&H crystals which are critical components in NIF’s laser systems (the largest and most energetic system in the world).

  • 2023

    G&H completes the acquisitions of GS Optics and Artemis Optical. This allows the creation of two new Centres of Excellence, our North American Centre of Excellence for Life Sciences in Rochester, NY and our Centre of Excellence for Optical Coatings in Plymouth, UK.

75 Years in the Making

When Gooch & Housego was founded 75 years ago in a quiet British town, no one could have imagined the modern global corporation it would become.

The story of G&H begins with two individuals – Mr Archie Gooch & Mr Leslie Housego...

Flip through the 75th anniversary brochure...

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Want a digital copy of the G&H 75th Anniversary Brochure?

G&H 75th Anniversary Brochure

Humble Beginnings

When Gooch & Housego was founded 75 years ago in a quiet British town, no one could have imagined the modern global corporation it would become. The story of G&H begins with two individuals - Mr. Archie Gooch & Mr. Leslie Housego.

Archie was trained by the company, Barr and Stroud, where he worked on rangefinders and periscopes. During World War II, the Royal Air Force began to use radios in their bombers that utilized crystals requiring individuals with optical expertise to cut and polish quartz. Archie and Leslie began working on these radios at Standard Telephones and Cables (STC) in Greenwich, London, but were evacuated to Ilminster, Somerset to escape the Blitz.

In 1948, after the war ended, Archie and Leslie founded their own optics fabrication company, Gooch & Housego (G&H), in Ilminster. It was a modest operation, primarily focused on creating devices such as prisms, lenses, mirrors, and windows for larger manufacturers to use in scientific instruments. However, the founders had a clear vision for the company’s future: to be known for producing the best optical devices. Over the course of several decades, G&H experienced steady growth under their leadership.

The Path to Public

Over the years, G&H began to expand from creating precision optics solely for other manufacturers, to designing and producing its own line of optical and acousto-optic devices.

In 1980, the company achieved a significant milestone with the introduction of the acousto-optic Q-switch. This breakthrough led to G&H’s transformation into a company that supplied active crystal components to laser system vendors and helped revolutionize modern materials processing and advanced manufacturing in microelectronics.

Initially, G&H primarily supplied to UK government, industrial scientific research, and academic customers. However, by the mid-1990s, the majority of their revenue came from acousto-optics devices supplied to overseas markets such as the United States, Germany, and Japan. To expand its technological base, the company started to acquire other companies, which broadened its core technology, expanded its footprint and increased its customer base. This marked the beginning of G&H becoming an international business with genuine global reach.

USA Expansion

In 1995, G&H made its first acquisition by purchasing the US company Optronic Laboratories, an instrument company that produced spectrophotometers. This acquisition served to diversify the company’s portfolio into the instruments business and provided a foothold in the United States.

By 1997, G&H had transformed itself from a family owned optical engineering company to an international group of high-tech companies. In that year G&H was listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) of the London Stock Exchange.

Despite considering a name change, the company decided to maintain the name Gooch & Housego, given its recognition in the marketplace for demonstrated reliability, product quality and innovation. According to former CEO Gareth Jones, the quirky but memorable name was similar to the names of some well-established optical companies that still bear their founder’s name. Adopting a modern “optronics” name had been considered but was ultimately rejected due to the saturation of startups with similar types of names. By retaining the name Gooch & Housego, the company preserved its valuable and unique brand identity.

G&H Today

Today, G&H is a world leader in the photonics industry.

With over 1,000 skilled employees working in design, engineering, sales, marketing, operational and manufacturing across twelve facilities. Our components are most often found in the core of high reliability systems in the aviation, space, biomedical and telecommunications industries. The common theme in all our business is highest reliability, quality, and performance. Our newest products are often the result of collaboration between our sites that combine the unique capabilities of each team. For example, our ability to grow and process crystals, convert them into functional modules and ultimately system integrate them together with other G&H components into equipment, makes us a key and long-term partner to our customer base. Our ability to manufacture custom components and integrate them into sub-systems is ultimately what can create a system performance differentiator that translates to a unique selling point for our clients and underpin their success in the marketplace.

Understanding our ability to push the performance envelope of the technology, we, continue to play a key role in supporting cutting edge research programs for laser fusion, planetary exploration, and quantum technologies.

G&H Tomorrow

G&H envisions a better world where photonics plays a pivotal role in enhancing and transforming every aspect of our daily lives.

With photonics already revolutionizing fields such as telecommunications, microelectronics manufacturing, and semiconductor chip fabrication, there are exciting opportunities ahead for photonics to make an impact in biomedical research, surgery and diagnostics, renewable energy, and guidance systems for the aerospace industry.

We believe that as photonics evolve into a pivotal enabling technology, new ventures must emerge with the insight and drive to identify and capitalize on the arising prospects. We are dedicated to being one of those enterprises, equipped with the essential technologies and capabilities needed to turn these opportunities into tangible achievements.

Our success and longevity in the optics industry can be attributed to our people and their unwavering commitment to precision, innovation, and efficient manufacturing processes.


We are constantly challenging ourselves in the areas of product development and manufacturing excellence in order to support our growth ambitions, and we are confident that the broad range of capabilities within our diverse and engaged workforce will enable us to achieve our goals.

At the heart of our success lies our exceptional craft skills, which we have honed by years of experience working with optics, optical coatings, photonics, and advanced system integration. We understand that these skills are crucial to our ability to make devices that other companies may not be able to produce. That’s why we are committed to working hard to attract, retain, develop, and grow our skilled workforce. An example of this is through our apprenticeship scheme that we run to ensure that these skills are passed onto the next generation.

As we look to the future, in 2023 we launched a new strategy for the Group focused on transforming G&H to a new level as an ‘innovative customer focussed technology company’ for the next chapter of our story. This will be delivered responsibly by making a ‘better world with photonics’ and ensuring that G&H remains the ’first choice’ for all our stakeholders whether that’s our employees, our customers, our shareholders, our eco-system partners, or the communities where we operate.