The History of Munro Instruments

15th May 2017

Munro Instruments was founded in 1864 by R.W. Munro. The company quickly established itself as a world-leading developer and manufacturer of meteorological equipment.

R.W. Munro made particular headway within the world of anemometers after the Tay Bridge disaster in 1879, when a rail bridge in Dundee collapsed after a violent storm. Government authorities realised it was important to create an instrument which could correctly indicate wind force. R. W. Munro was commissioned to assist William Henry Dines, a meteorologist, in creating a scientifically accurate anemometer in 1892 called the Dines Pressure Tube Anemometer.

The company later developed the IM146, a dual in-line wind sensor comprising a cup anemometer and wind direction vane. Its accuracy and robust design meant that it was suitable for a wider number of applications, such as professional forecasting. Several decades after it was first released, the IM146, along with the newer model, the IM147, is still regularly used around the world.

Also in 1892, R. W. Munro began to concentrate on the environmental sector and, in line with tidal research, began to manufacture hydrological equipment, such as mechanical tide gauges and water level recorders for rivers and reservoirs. This equipment has been used throughout the British Isles and the world.

In 1880, Munro Instruments expanded their business and set themselves up in Kings Cross. At this same time they were awarded a contract with the Bank of England to construct a machine capable of printing and numbering bank notes. Fourteen machines were made in total that produced deckle-edged banknotes varying from £5 to £1000. They were printed in batches of eight and the machine was capable of printing 3000 notes an hour.

Due to his notoriety in the meteorological world, R. W. Munro came into contact with Professor John Milne. Together they created a Seismograph to measure the vibrations from earthquakes. Their aim was to determine the nature of the Earth’s surface and interior. This was put into practice when London experienced a small earthquake in 1907. Milne was able to locate the original source of the tremor through the information provided by an owner of the instrument in Australia and found out that it originated from South America.

Even though the founder’s interest lay in meteorology, and in particular wind force, Munro Instruments has ventured into other branches of precision engineering. This was further demonstrated when Munro acquired W F Stanley, manufacturer of the Skid Resistance Tester. This device was originally created by the Road Research Laboratory in the 1950s to measure how slippery floor surfaces are. Munro Instruments has managed to significantly improve the quality and precision of the original design and is now the world-leading manufacturer of the Skid Resistance Tester (also known as the British Pendulum). We have developed its design even further, in recent years with the new Bath and Shower Pendulum and the digital Intelligent Pendulum.

If you would like to receive further information about the History of Munro Instruments, please get in touch via email ( or phone (+44 (0) 20 8551 7000).