Our history

We recently celebrated our 175th anniversary, with a 2-day international conference organised in London as well as with an internal emerging scientist conference, showcasing the breadth, depth and impact of the work we undertake, as well as how much our scientists, established and emerging, are leading in their fields of application. This was a great opportunity to celebrate our scientific heritage, whilst also looking to the future.

Our origins can be traced back to 1842 when the Laboratory of the Board of Excise was founded in the City of London to regulate the adulteration of tobacco which was prohibited under the Pure Tobacco Act.

Work to protect Government Revenue continued to be the Board’s main occupation until 1875 when the laboratory was appointed ‘referee analyst’ under the new Sale of Food and Drugs Act. This was a landmark in legislation as it was specifically designed to protect the consumer rather than the revenue by ensuring, for example, that milk had not been watered down.

To this day, we host the unique function of the ‘Government Chemist’, providing expert opinion, based on independent chemical and bioanalytical measurement, to help avoid or resolve disputes pertaining to food and agriculture, and we give advice to Government and the wider community dependent on analytical science.

The Laboratory of the Government Chemist was privatised in 1996 and renamed LGC. Today we are owned by funds affiliated with Cinven and Astorg.

Since privatisation, we have significantly expanded our activities. Employee numbers have risen from 270 in 1996 to over 2,300 in 2020, as we have grown organically and through multiple acquisitions.