Queen's Award for Enterprise

Thomas Keating Ltd was delighted to receive a Queen's Award

and issued the following Press Release


Astro-kit creators receive Queen’s Award


From one economic dip and through another, Thomas Keating Ltd is proud to be flourishing, says MD


Queen’s Award recognises commercial success of kit supplied to world-leading scientific projects


THOMAS KEATING Ltd, a 230 year old company now based in Billingshurst that has transformed from flea powder manufacturer into a creator and supplier of high-tech space kit, has been recognised by the Queen’s Office for its success.


Following recent commercial achievements - including the development of 67 pairs of targets to calibrate ALMA, the European Southern Observatory (ESO)’s flagship ground-based telescope based in Chile - the company has received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade.


Managing Director of Thomas Keating Ltd, Richard Wylde, said, “We’ve spent the past thirty years developing a company that can now compete successfully with high-tech businesses around the world to supply internationally-leading scientific projects with the equipment they need.


“It was only a few decades ago, during the recession in the early ‘80s, that our manufacturing future looked vulnerable.  To be receiving the Queen’s Award now, during another round of economically troubled times, is a great validation of our mission to put precision craft skills into science and out into the international market place.”


After more than 180 years of flea powder manufacturing, Thomas Keating Ltd began toolmaking in the 1940s, designing and manufacturing injection moulds to enable other companies to mould plastic parts in volume, but the recession in the early ‘80s led to a decline in orders and a need to re-focus the company’s attentions away from mass manufacturing.


Richard Wylde, who is the fourth generation of Wyldes to manage the family business, graduated from the University of Cambridge in the late ‘70s to pick up the mantel and has gradually developed the scientific instrument arm of the company, Terahertz.


Terahertz has not only developed instruments for ALMA, which is searching the deepest, darkest, coldest parts of space, the company has worked on a range of international scientific projects, including the European Space Agency’s Planck Satellite, designed to investigate the cosmic microwave background, and the JEM/SMILES project in Japan to observe trace gases in the upper atmosphere from space. 


Wylde continues, “We’re delighted that the Queen’s Award not only recognises our commercial success, but that it also commends the work that we undertake in the local community. By giving staff the opportunity to man the fire station and work for the local Scout group, we endeavour to be a positive force in the community.”  


Francis Maude, Cabinet Office Minister and Thomas Keating Ltd's local MP, commented, "It is great to see a small but long standing manufacturing enterprise  in my constituency win the Queen’s Award for Enterprise.


“The company typifies the national effort to rebalance the UK’s economy towards sustainable export led growth; contributing towards both the commercial and scientific reputation of the country. 


“As well as helping astronomers further our understanding of the Universe, Thomas Keating's instruments are working on some of the urgent challenges of the age, from monitoring man's effect on the atmosphere to the scourge of Alzheimer's disease."


Now, while waiting for a visit from The Queen’s Representative to mark their success, the company is focused on building instruments which determine the  structure of proteins – such as those implicated in Alzheimer’s’ disease.





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Thomas Keating Ltd.

Owned by Churchwood Trust Ltd., the family holding company, Thomas Keating Ltd comprises two distinct enterprises:


Terahertz - aka TK Instruments - designs and develops quasi-optical Terahertz systems for a range of scientific tasks, including world-leading international astronomy missions, atmospheric remote sensing, the determination of how proteins fold and nuclear fusion diagnostics.


TK Toolmaking makes high-precision tooling: press tools, gauges and injections moulds.  The company produces precision components in areas such as medicine, aerospace, racing cars and packaging.



FT comments on Queen's Award
Final band 10 windows delivered to ALMA

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