Our history

Measurement matters, as it affects everything from food and drink to medicine. 

At the NML we have a strong heritage in measurement science. We are the UK’s designated institute for chemical and bio measurement, and the home of the Government Chemist.

The Government Chemist role was created in 1909 and now it oversees the statutory function of referee analyst within the UK, resolving disputes over analytical measurements, particularly in relation to food regulatory enforcement.

The UK was one of the pioneers within the global measurement community to recognise the need to address the new and developing challenges of measurement across chemistry and biology. In 1988, the then Government Chemist launched the first UK programme to develop a chemical and bio-measurement infrastructure and the NML was born.

The work we do today ensures trust and confidence in current chemical and biological measurements, and is developing the measurement science needed for the future.

timeline of NML history