Pavelle Ltd sold to Durst

Further History of Pavelle Ltd
Les Dutfield supplied the following information about Pavelle Ltd, which extends its history to when it became Durst [UK] Ltd.
Les (aged 72, January 2007) served in the RAF in the early 1950s.
While in the RAF he received training in photographic processing and later (1958) he went to work for Ilford Ltd, starting as a service technician on photo' processing equipment. Les stayed with Ilford until 1969 and became their Field Service Manager. He then joined Pavelle Ltd taking responsibility for the service dept. He remained with Durst until 1983 when he left and opened one of the first One Hour Minilabs in Yorkshire.
For further information on the history of Durst (UK) Ltd, see my more recent web page devoted to Dr Kurt Jacobson.

During the 1960s Pavelle Ltd had relocated from its original Church Road, Epsom, Surrey, UK premises to Felstead Road, Longmead Industrial Estate, Epsom, which is where Les Dutfield worked. On the site was a test bed coating plant to produce colour photographic paper and Kurt Jacobson's son, Ralph Eric Jacobson, also worked on that project.

Prior to Les joining, there arose a need to test print the finished colour paper by some automatic process rather than using a normal enlarger. A team was put together to produce their own automatic colour printer that consisted of Geoff Long, Keith Aston and later Nick Watts.

The first printer produced by this team was a simple 'additive' type that made three different exposures consecutively through red, green and blue gelatin filters. The three filters were supported on a rotating disc and each filter would, in turn, come in line with the printing light. The printing light was 'on' all the time and a black shutter shielded it from the photo paper. As each filter came into line, the black shutter opened and the first (e.g the red) colour exposure would take place, for a time determined by a photo-cell colour analyser. Thereafter, the shutter closed and the next (e.g.the green) filter came into line and the paper received its second exposure. The procedure was then repeated a third time with the last filter (e.g. the blue). After the third exposure, the exposed photo' paper, which was on a roll, was wound on sufficiently to bring a fresh, unexposed, section of paper into the (obscured) light path. Throughout this movement, the black shutter prevented the paper from being fogged.

From the early 1960s, Keith Aston had been researching the application of dichroic interference filters to 'subtractive' colour printing. This technology conferred several advantages over the 'additive' method, the most noticeable being a reduction in exposure time. In the early automatic 'subtractive' printing system, the printing light remained on throughout the printing exposure (as with the 'additive' system described above), but the black shutter was only used at the start and the end of the printing sequence. The shutter opened and the exposure began, followed by the automatic sequenced insertion of the three dichroic filters (magenta, yellow and cyan) into the light beam to control the duration of (respectively) the green, blue & red exposure time. For example, when the magenta filter was inserted, it terminated the green light exposure, but allowed the blue and red exposures to continue. Adding the yellow dichroic filter then cut off the blue light, leaving just the red exposure in process. Adding the cyan filter effectively stopped 'all' the light, the black shutter closed and the paper was wound on. Because more of the printing light was being used throughout the exposure, the printing time was significantly reduced.

(As an aside, Paterson marketed a home enlarger system based upon 'additive' dichroic filters from the mid-1980s, see below).

Keith Aston filed a patent in Dec 1965 (Publication number: GB1206401 ; Publication date: 23rd September 1970) wherein he describes a method of making variable density dichroic filters, so enabling their use within adjustable 'subtractive' colour filtration enlarger heads. This technology was also applied to the first dichroic colour head enlarger, the Colortron 150, and was a huge advance on the previous 'subtractive' system which combined multiple magenta & yellow gelatin filters within a filter pack. The 150 had an automatic exposure system and was suitable for both 135 and 120 films.

Trade visitors started to order colour enlargers and automatic colour printers. The equipment business grew rapidly and, as sales increased, a second factory unit was obtained on the Longmead Industrial Estate site to manufacture the equipment. The export market also expanded rapidly under Peter Rockwell and Pavelle Limited received the Queen's Award to Industry for export achievements.

In the meantime Geoff Long and Keith Aston had produced a 5"x4" colour enlarger with dichroic filters, the 400. They were then asked to produce a colour head for the famous Durst enlargers.

Pavelle in the US was now setting up a full size colour paper manufacturing plant in New Jersey (see next paragraph from Malco9lm Worob) and many of the UK staff were seconded to it to help get things up and running. Perhaps this activity explains the patent, in 1968, which Kurt Jacobson assigns to the Pavelle Corporation of White Plains, New York, (US3372030; an invention for speeding up colour material developing).

An e-mail from Malcolm S. Worob, in the USA, is relevant to this part of the Pavelle story. He is not sure of dates, but says it was the late-1960s. Malcolm tells me (I have edited Malcom's text a little):
I was assistant Quality Control Supervisor for the US Pavelle Corporation while they were building their new paper emulsion coating plant in West Caldwell, New Jersey. The 3-bath Pavelle colour printing system was (allegedly) superior to the Kodak Ektacolor system of that time. It was quicker, cleaner, used fewer solutions and produced better colour. However Kodak (co-incidentally, or possibly because they knew the Pavelle sytem was about to come to market), managed to bring out a new Ektacolor system with less processing steps than their previous. This happened before 'we' could get the new Pavelle plant on-line (Malcolm says he thinks the new Extacolor system had five processing steps instead of the previous 7, but he can't be sure after all these years). Kodak then reduced their prices to professional printing labs, making the Pavelle system a poor economic investment. This effectively forced Pavelle out of business before they had any chance to 'hit the market'.
Malcolm concludes by saying he believes Pavelle US later sued Kodak and either won or settled out of court for a sizeable sum. However "the suit was after I (and everyone else in the plant) was laid off". The Pavelle US factory site was subsequently sold for a non-photographic use.

During the early 1970s Kurt Jacobson gave up his position as Managing Director of Pavelle Ltd and the Pavelle brothers (Leo & Simon) put in place an American gentleman known to the staff as 'Bunny' Wolbarst. Subsequently, the photo' equipment part of Pavelle Ltd was sold to Durst, becoming Durst [UK] Ltd. Most of the UK staff who had been working in the U.S. then returned to Epsom.

Durst (their web site claims they have been involved in high quality imaging since 1936) was an Italian firm based in the Dolomites, whose staff spoke German, it being located in what had been the old Austro-Hungarian Empire prior to the first world war. The take over was a very memorable event for the ex-Pavelle Managers who were all flown out to the Dolomites to see the Durst factory and meet the Durst brothers.

After Johnsons of Hendon were taken over by Hestair in 1972 and ceased chemical product manufacture in 1974, Johnsons fortunes must have continued to decline. Up to 1974 Johnsons of Hendon were the UK distributors for Eumig and Durst equipment, but sometime later Eumig set up their own UK distribution centre and took on the sale of Durst enlargers in the UK. Indeed, by 1st February 1977, Eumig themselves purchased Johnsons of Hendon and changed its name to Eumig [UK] Ltd. However, as can be read on my Johnsons of Hendon page, this situation lasted for only about 4 years before Eumig, in Austria, went into bankruptcy and a management buy-out saw Johnsons of Hendon Ltd recover out of the collapsed Eumig (UK) organisation. Thus, through the 1980s until autumn 1993, Durst was again distributed by Johnsons of Hendon.

The combination of (ex-Pavelle) "know-how" and the Durst name caused a huge expansion in the Durst [UK] design and manufacturing of colour photo printing and processing equipment and led to them taking on the distribution of other foreign manufacturers' products and a third factory unit was obtained on the Longmead Industrial Estate.

However, in May 1992, Amateur Photographer magazine reported that Durst were to stop manufacturing its range of darkroom equipment in the UK and production was to be switched to Bressanone in Italy. The Epson organisation was then relegated to acting as the direct UK (professional equipment ?) sales centre. A further 18months later, Photo Pro magazine for autumn 1993 reported (in ProNews, p6) that Durst UK had taken over the distribution of the amateur Durst range from long-standing importers, Johnsons Photopia, bringing all the Italian company's products under one roof (pro and amateur). "They are to do this in style, relaunching the Durst Colour Courses under former Durst Club 'guru' Clifford Stokes". The full Durst UK Ltd address was Felstead Road, Longmead Industrial Estate, Epsom, Surrey, KT19 9AR.

In the British Journal of Photography for 31st June 2006, an editorial page carried the news item 'End of the line for Durst in Derby'.
"Durst has shut down its office in Derby and made the (4) members of staff part of a rationalisation of Durst's sales and service commitments to the UK market." Durst also revealed its office in Epsom, Surrey, was to be renamed 'Durst Image Technology UK'. It was to be permanently staffed with 13 employees including 9 service engineers who were to report directly to the parent company in Austria. (Lienz in Austria is where Durst has its manufacturing facilities; also at Brixen, Italy). Going to the Durst web site one finds that until the 13th November 2006, Durst still had an office on the Longmead Business Park, Epsom, local to (maybe even the same as) the offices that had been occupied by Pavelle (UK) Ltd from the 1960s. Since November 2006, Durst have been at "purposely adapted" offices at Kingston Rd, Leatherhead, Surrey.

I found this closing snippet of information here. Summer 2006: Durst announced that it will no longer manufacture photographic enlargers. Sales have plummeted from a peak of 107,000 units in 1979 to just a few hundred units in recent years.

The Paterson Philips Additive Enlarger system

In the Paterson 'Book of the Darkroom' (1987 edition), there is a description of their (Philips manufactured) colour enlarger system using 'additive' coloured dichroic filters, each of the three filters being fixed permanently in front of its dedicated lamp (hence 3 lamps are within the colour mixing head). The means of controlling the colour balance is by dimming the individual lamps by whatever amount was needed to give correct colour balance in the finished print. The three lamps overcame the problem of 'additive' printing requiring multiple exposures, but increased the equipment cost. However, Paterson claimed higher colour purity for this arrangement.

In 1987, the Paterson (Philips) colour enlarger range included the PCS 2000, a 35mm enlarger adaptable to negatives from 110 to 6x6cm, the PCS 2500 universal enlarger suited to negatives from 110 to 6x7cm, the PDT 2020, being an enlarging exposure meter & timer, the PCA 2060 colour analyser and the PDT 2015, being a digital timer with multiple timer presets for print processing.

This page last modified: 24th March 2010