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About Us

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” Sir Isaac Newton

Vacuum Interrupters Limited (VIL) is a technology company focussed on the technology of Vacuum Interrupters (VI) and switches used in Vacuum Circuit Breakers (VCB).

The original VIL was formed in 1968 as a joint venture between the GEC and Reyrolle-Parsons companies, to research, develop, and manufacture commercial Vacuum Interrupters for use in Medium Voltage and High Voltage Switchgear.

1965 VIL founded by English Electric, Licensed CLR material to Westinghouse
1968 VIL reformed as joint venture between GEC, Reyrolle & Brush, in Finchley London
1969 VIL produces VI for 132kV AEI VCB
1976 VIL Licences Vacuum Interrupter technology to Siemens, Berlin
1978 Dr Leslie Falkingham joins VIL
1982 VIL invents “One-Shot Seal Off” techniques for VI Production
1983 VIL patents “Folded Petal” Arc Control Geometry
1984 VIL produces worlds first “Shieldless” power VI
1988 VIL wholly owned by GEC. Vacuum Interrupter Factories set up by Dr Falkingham in Africa and later in India
1990 VIL becomes part of GEC Alsthom
1992 VIL moves from London to Rugby and the ‘World Centre of Excellence’ is created by Dr Falkingham
1994 VIL produces world’s smallest 12kV and 20kA VI
1999 Areva acquire Alstom T&D
2001 VIL World Centre of Excellence closed and technology moved to France
2005 VIL reformed as an independent company in the UK
2006 VIL R&D Centre reformed in the UK with former members of the World Centre of Excellence Team
2010 Dr Falkingham opened the VIL Vacuum Technology Laboratories
2015 VIL adds in-house vacuum furnacing and clean assembly capability




Installation of in-house Synthetic Short Circuit Test Plant rated upto 40kA

Design and manufacture of new concept demountable vacuum chambers

Acquisation of high speed movie camera for vacuum arc research

Dr Leslie Falkingham is the founder and Managing Director of Vacuum Interrupters Ltd.

Born in Leeds, England in 1955, Leslie is married and currently lives in Rugby, England.
He was made a Fellow of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) in 1987, and a Fellow of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (now IET) in 1988. He is a Chartered Engineer in the UK (C.Eng) and is also a European Engineer (Eur.Ing). He was made a Fellow of the IEEE in 2007 for his contribution to Vacuum Interrupter technology.

He graduated from Lanchester Polytechnic, Coventry , England , in 1978 with BSc (Hons) in Combined Electrical and Mechanical Engineering, and obtained his PhD from Cranfield University (UK) in 2002. He was a Visiting Fellow of Cranfield University for a number of years and is now a Visiting Professor at Aston University, Department of Design. He is presently Secretary of the Permanent International Scientific Committee of the International Symposium for Discharges and Electrical Insulation in Vacuum (ISDEIV) which is the premier international conference in vacuum switching technology and is also Chairman of the Inner Circle -Vacuum of the Current Zero Club, which is an international group of world leading Scientists and Engineers with an interest in electrical switching phenomena. He is also an individual member of CIGRE and secretary of CIGRE WG A3-27.

His employment experience includes an initial period of ten years at Vacuum Interrupters Limited, London , England which he joined as a graduate apprentice in 1978 and where he performed R&D, and designed and developed vacuum interrupters finally ending up as Engineering Manager. This was followed by two years with GEC South Africa where he was responsible for designing and building a new factory near Johannesburg to manufacture the vacuum interrupters he had designed. During the next ten years as Technical Director with GEC Alsthom, Rugby he created and then led the ALSTOM World Centre of Excellence for Vacuum Switching Technology, and in addition was heavily involved with the ALSTOM vacuum interrupter plant in Calcutta , India . From 2001 to 2005 he was appointed Group Technology Director firstly for ALSTOM T&D Medium Voltage Business and then for Areva T&D Products, both positions were based in the group head office, Paris , France. In September 2005 he left Areva in order to re-form Vacuum Interrupters Limited (VIL) in Rugby , England , where he is presently Managing Director.

He has spent most of his working life involved in the research, design, development, and manufacture of vacuum interrupters and switches for high voltage vacuum switchgear. He holds a number of patents, and is an acknowledged expert internationally in this field. During his career he has produced a large number of technical papers and presented numerous lectures on the technology world-wide.

In addition over the past ten years as a result of his PhD studies and his role within Alstom/Areva, he has become a specialist in Technology Strategy and the optimisation of R&D. As a result he has lectured on this at Cranfield University , published a number of papers, was Chairman of the Awards Committee for R&D Management Magazine for 2002, and has also played a key role in the development of technology strategy at Alstom/Areva T&D. As part of this role he developed a new technique based on the DELPHI process to use the company’s holistic knowledge of technology and markets as part of the strategy development and technology management process.

For a number of years he has also been active in standards development for HV switchgear within IEC and ANSI and is currently involved with the writing of the next generation of standards as a member of various maintenance teams in IEC and the IEEE Switchgear committee.

His special fields of interest include: All aspects of vacuum interrupter technology and manufacture, as well as switchgear design & manufacture; Standards development; R&D Management & Technology Strategy and in particular the optimisation of Industrial R&D.

He received the Nelson Gold Medal from GEC in 1996 for “Outstanding technical innovation”, and the J.J. Thomson Medal of the IEE in 2002 for his “Distinguished contribution to electronic engineering”. In 2011 he was awarded the IEC 1906 award for his “significant contribution to the development of international standards for electrical switchgear”.

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