Since its formation in 1968, by Mr Cecil Tarbet, the Company had led the way in the development of UV-Visible Spectrophotometers and was the first to manufacture a commercially available variable wavelength UV-Visible detector for HPLC.


Today  wide ranges of UV-Visible Spectrophotometers, HPLC and Ion Chromatography systems are manufactured on the Cambridge, United Kingdom, premises of Cecil Instruments.  This is an example of British Manufacturing at its best.

1968 saw the production of the CE 404 colorimeter and its autosampler with the very first unit being sold overseas. By the turn of the new Millennium, instruments were being sold to over 150 countries around the world annually.


1969 - 1970 The beginning of the Series 1 UV-Visible spectrophotometers were introduced and by 1972 this range comprised a total of 7 spectrophotometers together with a wide range of accessories.


CE 202 UV-Visible spectrophotometer

CE 272 Linear UV-Visible spectrophotometer

CE 292 Digital UV-Visible spectrophotometer

CE 303 Visible spectrophotometer

CE 343 Low cost visible spectrophotometer

CE 373 Linear visible spectrophotometer

CE 393 Digital visible spectrophotometer.


1969 - 1971 Cecil introduced the world's first commercially available variable wavelength monitor for HPLC, CE 212, a specimen of which appears in our museum.

At this time, instruments were assembled in spare rooms in Mr Tarbet's house, his garage and garden shed which was all totally inadequate. In order to expand space, a small retail shop in Cambridge was purchased but that too was very soon too small for the rate of growth in production. A small industrial unit of some 6000 square feet followed by a second very shortly afterwards, and, when the combined capacity of all that was quickly exceeded, a nearby house was taken over with the exception of one room where the occupant continued to live! These combined premises were within months restricting production and so two mobile homes were purchased and assembly work was started in those.


In 1974, Cecil Instruments obtained an industrial development certificate for the construction of the first purpose built scientific instrument factory to be built in Cambridge for many years. It was using that same certificate that Trinity College was able to commence development of the Cambridge Science Park. The issue of the Industrial Development Certificate was authorised by the then Labour Minister of Technology, Antony Wedgwood Benn who retired from the House of Commons after 50 years service both as Member of Parliament and Minister of Government in 2001.


1975 saw Cecil's production transferred to the current production building which still houses production, administration and development. During that same hectic year the first double beam scanning spectrophotometers were introduced with the same principles of high quality optical systems retained today in the current double beam scanning instruments


1981 saw the development of Cecil's first microprocessor controlled scanning spectrophotometer, which again can be seen in the museum. Although primitive by today's sophisticated very fast and completely automated micro-processor controlled instruments it has, unlike most of its competitors of the period, proved to be extremely reliable.


1982-1984 Cecil's attention was directed at improving the highly successful Series 1 range of instruments and during this period 7 new instruments identified as the Series 2 range were launched. With its wide range of accessories, Cecil was now able to offer an instrument to suit virtually every application and budget. The reliability of these instruments has been unsurpassed with many thousands still operating satisfactorily throughout the World.


1984-1985 was the period when the double beam instruments received further development attention with the launch of the CE 594 (later to be improved to become the Series 4000) and CE 599S.


1985 saw the start of a development programme which was to lead the way towards yet another generation of instruments.


1987 brought the start of the building work of the Cecil Technical Centre.


1988 witnessed the introduction of the first of the current style of double beam scanning spectrophotometer, the CE 5500 which has subsequently been followed in 1990 by model CE 5501 and two models in the 6000 Series, CE 6600 and CE 6700. The superb styling of these instruments is the foundation for today's exceptional double beam scanning spectrophotometers.



1991-1992 brought the first models in the Series 1000 and 2000 ranges and as those development programmes continued, we saw the range grow to incorporate low cost UV models with scanning, the Series 3000 and the improved double beam models CE 5502, CE 6602 and CE 6603.


External software for PC control with on-screen display of spectra, reprocessing and mass spectral storage was produced offering an ultra low cost scanning spectrophotometer (CE1020S) for the first time.


Whilst reflectance accessories had enabled a wide range of reflectance measurements to be made using double beam instruments, 1994 brought the CE 3045 Reflectance Spectrophotometer complete with an integrating sphere accessory. This development represented a quantum leap into the reflectance market as a low cost but very high performance reflectance spectrophotometer with a wide range of accessories including optical lens holders and integrating spheres was now available.


1995 the Series 8000 and 9000 range of double beam high speed scanning spectrophotometers were introduced following one of the most active periods in the Company's history. A very heavy commitment to highly qualified development personnel resulted in the instruments moving from concept to despatch of the first unit in just 9 months!


The new Series 1100 HPLC systems together with its sophisticated MS-Windows based DataControl software providing full system control and offering complete data handling techniques was launched


1996 brought the introduction of a new range of Series 1000, 2000 and 3000 UV-Visible spectrophotometers. Printed circuit board production moved to automatic surface mount technology providing commonality throughout the range for excellent economy of production. Fast micro-processors enabled high speed operation together with the introduction of high quality display screens offering a completely new concept in the display of spectra and plots. Scrolling enables spectra and to be shown instantly in exceptional detail as the screen width is effectively extended to 30cms.


As part of our programme to further enhance our already superlative Quality Control procedures, accreditation to ISO9000 was gained at the first attempt.


1997 the Series 1100 range of HPLC instrumentation is enhanced by the addition of the CE1420 Refractive Index Detector, Autosampler, Column Oven with optional cooling and a Vacuum Degasser.


The AquaQuest range of water analysis spectrophotometers using the Merck Spectroquant range of test kits are introduced together with the Aquarius low cost double beam UV-Visible scanning spectrophotometer.


1998 The new BIOQUEST range of UV-Visible spectrophotometers with application methods designed for the life science, molecular biology and bio-technology markets introduced.


In 1999, a revolutionary software system enabling external control of instruments via a PC using MS-Excel software was introduced. All instrument operating commands and functions are activated from within Excel eliminating the requirement for additional operator training. Data may be obtained, spectra or graphical plots may be generated, manipulated and stored and transferred to any MS-Windows programme for presentation.


In 2000, the GeneQuest range of dedicated DNA/RNA Analysers was launched at the Analytica exhibition held in Munich, Germany. The instruments are dedicated to the requirements of the Molecular Biology laboratory and enable automatic measurement of a range of methods to be completed. A wide choice of software is included as standard and samples as small as 5ul may be measured using special cell holders.


The Reflectascan range of reflectance spectrophotometers for measurement of both specular and diffuse reflectance, using an internally mounted integrating sphere, was introduced. A range of colour measurement software enables precise measurement of colour to be made simply and conveniently. Unique accessories for measuring the reflectance and transmission of optical lenses are available.


In 2004, the WaveQuest UV/Visible Ultra fast Scanning HPLC Detector came to the market.  Analysts can perform detailed spectral scans and highly sensitive quantitative analyses on the same instrument.  Extra time can be saved as the WaveQuest will provide detailed spectral information and highly sensitive and precise quantitative information, in the same chromatographic elution.


2005 The IonQuest range of modular Ion Chromatography instrumentation was introduced.


In 2007, the Adept HPLC range was expanded to include the quaternary HPLC Q-Adept systems.


2009  Cecil AutoQuest LC Autosamplers , specially designed for use with Adept HPLC, Q-Adept HPLC and IonQuest IC Systems, were introduced. They may also be used with third party LC systems.


2012 The company continued with an ongoing programme of new product development to meet the requirements of users.


2013 The easy to use and highly affordable Merit HPLC Systems were introduced.  The Company remains committed to an ongoing programme of new product development and will continue to introduce innovative products designed to meet  exacting future requirements.


A chromatogram of a standard solution of some mixed sugars, obtained

using an Adept HPLC system 9.

All Adept, AquaQuest, Aquarius, Aurius, AutoQuest, BioQuest, BioAquarius, DataStream, DietQuest, GeneQuest, IonQuest, PharmaQuest, PowerStream, Q-Adept, ReflectaScan, Super Aquarius, Super Aurius and Wave Quest product names and logos listed on this website are trademarks or registered trademarks of Cecil Instruments Limited in the United Kingdom and other countries.

From the dawn of time, man has attempted to determine the nature of items around himself.  From the taste of non-toxic/toxic plants to the texture of the substances used to paint the family cave, some type of testing has been used.


Over the centuries there has been an upsurge in the number of items to be tested.

Nowadays, testing has evolved into several analytical science disciplines, some of which include analytical chemistry, biochemistry, metabolomics, proteomics, diagnostics, clinical chemistry and materials science.


Today's analytical scientist must satisfy the need for the testing of an enormous range of items. These items include biological compounds, water, effluent, pharmaceuticals, foods, beverages, fabrics, paints, lenses, agrochemicals, silicon chips, power generators, environmental pollutants etc.  


Consequently, there are great demands on analytical scientists, to satisfy the growing demand for fast, reliable, accurate, sensitive, reliable, reproducible, selective and cost effective techniques in the analytical testing of items.


Over the course of its long and prestigious history, Cecil Instruments have developed many analytical instruments, which can be used in a vast variety of contexts, for the analysis of a multitude of compounds.


Perhaps the fastest and easiest of techniques to use, is UV/Visible spectrophotometry.  Over the years, Cecil Instruments have developed numerous varieties of UV/Visible spectrophotometers.


Despite the wide capabilities of UV/Visible spectrophotometry, there are times when other techniques may be used.


Cecil Instruments also offer very comprehensive ranges of HPLC and Ion Chromatography systems.


UV/Visible spectrophotometry, HPLC and Ion Chromatography techniques may be combined with dissolution testing systems, in the analysis of controlled release products.


Consequently, Cecil Instruments provide a wide range of instrumentation, to accommodate  today's and tomorrows' requirements.


Cecil Instruments take pride in the manufacture high specification and high quality instrumentation, with a corresponding lengthy longevity.  A high degree of customer support is provided throughout the long life of the instrumentation.


Customised application notes are available on request, as a further aid to analytical scientists.