Keeler: A Family Tradition


Charles Henry Keeler with his OBE.

Keeler’s history dates back to 1917, when Charles Davis Keeler, who had arrived from America in 1906, opened a dispensing practice at 47 Wigmore Street in London’s West End. This was followed by branches in the West Country and the Midlands, laying the foundations for Keeler’s future growth and establishing the high standards in product quality and customer service which have characterised Keeler for a hundred years.

His son, Charles H Keeler, joined the family business in 1922 and became involved in the design of instruments for ophthalmologists. He patented his first instrument – a combined retinoscope and ophthalmoscope – in 1926, marking the birth of Keeler’s instrument business.

In 1935 Charles purchased the freehold of a large house in Windsor with 10 acres of grounds, where the spectacle and lens manufacturing operations were moved at the outbreak of World War Two. The present factory was built in the fields adjoining the family home. Post-war, Keeler separated its dispensing optician and instrument businesses to create a more streamlined operation and ventured into new markets overseas.

In 1958 Charles’ eldest son, Richard Keeler, joined the company, first qualifying as a dispensing optician, and then working in instrument sales. In 1970 he became Managing Director and steered the company through many successful years. He remained MD after Keeler was acquired by the Dollond & Aitchison Group, and finally retired in 1996 when the company was acquired by Halma plc. In 1993 Richard was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Ophthalmologists.

Richard may no longer be Managing Director, but the family tradition and ethos continues at Keeler to this day.

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