Trent Instruments

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Trent Instruments's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Trent Instruments is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

New Nottingham facility
Bridget, Mark and Malcolm Buckley,
co-directors of Trent Instruments
Based in Nottingham, Trent Instruments is a company
whose purpose is to supply horn systems and pressure
instrumentation to rail (and generic) industry. Alongside
this is the genuine goal of providing high-quality products at
competitive prices – all, moreover, on time, to specification
and with excellent technical support on top. In pursuing this
goal, they are now a leading supplier of locomotive horns and
associated products. It is for this reason they were appointees
of the UK & European agents and distributors for Nathan
Airchime. Since 2015 they have been situated in a new,
purpose-built facility at Genesis Business Park, and are pursuing
a new strategy of “planned growth”. To explain this and the
company more generally are the directors, Malcolm, Bridget and
Who we are and reasons for our success
At Trent Instruments, our vision is quite simple: to be a market leader in rail
warning horn systems – here, in Europe and beyond. This is a goal we are well
on the way to achieving given our status as a European distributor for Nathan
Airchime and our partnership with rail market leaders such as Bombardier, Hitachi
and Unipart. The four main products and services we provide are instrumentation,
railway equipment (new, repair, overhaul), design and verification. We are, in
effect, an all-encompassing solution.
Trent Instruments
»Co-directors: Malcolm, Bridget
and Mark Buckley
»Established in 1996
»Based in Nottingham
»Services: Manufacture of
horns for the railway industry
»No. of employees: 13
Highlighting best practice
Moreover, in doing all of this, we have
accumulated no liabilities, preferring
instead to finance ourselves in a
manner of structured growth. This
means we are in total control of our
destiny. Our impressive growth over the
last year is a testament to the efficacy
of this model. Two further reasons for
this success are, I believe, as follows.
One is that we’re very conscious of the
standards we have to work with, and
through our research and development
team we try our genuine utmost to
produce the best quality products.
For us this goal is uncompromising.
Part of this commitment to excellence
involves articulating this into a culture
and making our team aware of it –
something made easier by the fact
we’re so tightly knit.
We are blessed with a talented
management team, which supports
the board. Our experts include Phillip
Gaughan – sales, Martin Kerry –
quality, Jason Mountford – production
and Mike Lawson – engineering.
Because of the ever changing
specifications we must cater to, it’s
necessary to have a dynamic team
of this sort. To help us achieve this
kind of team, we have regular design
and performance reviews and KPI
meetings. This is to ensure that
everyone is being timely, as well as
quality assessment reviewed, which
includes the followingsubjects:
»Customer focus
»Engagement of people
»Process approach
»Continuous improvement
»Evidenced-based decision making
»Relationship management
The second reason we succeed
is our alliance with major train
companies, with whom we have close
relationships. We’re heavily involved
in their projects, and even provide for
them in our facilities a state-of-the-art
testing room for horns, which is quite
unique within our industry.
The broader context and the
long-term view
Of course, our success also has basis
in the fact that our sector more
broadly is currently buoyant, with our
order book being especially full at the
moment. However, this comes with
challenges and growing pains too.
Nathan horns modified
for UK market
We are blessed
with a talented
team which
supports the
To surmount this, we’ve invested a
lot of time and effort into capacity
planning. This is something we have
been complimented on by our clients,
among whom are Hitachi, DB Cargo,
Bombardier, Siemens and Unipart Rail.
In light of this, it’s also necessary to
plan for the long-term. In this respect,
we have in place a vision for the
next half a decade. As part of this
effort, we are currently looking at
potential acquisitions that would help
strengthen our supply line through
vertical integration. With the prospect
of leaving the European Union on
the horizon, we are also casting our
sights further afield for opportunities
abroad. Indeed, since Brexit has
been on the cards, we have seen an
increase in interest and enquiries.
We feel there is a tendency in British
political culture to exaggerate how
difficult trading is in the absence of
close economic union. For instance,
we routinely import from the US,
seamlessly and quickly, despite not
being tethered together in some sort
of economic union.
In addition to this, we are always
engaged in the effort of expanding
our portfolio, which is something
we firmly believe we can cope with
given the limited pool of outlets in
the industry. We are never content
with resting on our laurels, though;
further opportunities always exist.
For example, in recent times we have
done more than just supply the rail
horns; we have also begun taking
responsibility for the entire system
in which the horn is embedded.
This means we now provide control
panels, air from reservoirs and
signalling systems for the driver.
This makes us, in effect, a solutions
provider in addition to a vertical
We have great team behind us. We
try to look after our employees, who
in turn look after our customers.
It would be remiss to leave out of
this article the important family
element, as each of us have important
contributions to make – together, as
a family, we form a core unit of the
business. Our son, Mark, for instance,
has developed an example-setting
capacity planning system, and is the
future of the business. Bridget and I
started the company a long time ago
and provide invaluable business and
financial experience.
To speak broadly, though, our
success will always be tethered to the
quality of our product. Our future
will consist of always improving and
refining our products and services; in
short, continuing along our already
successful trajectory. With Mark’s
technical prowess and experience
of being in this company his entire
adult life, we are confident in the
long-term growth and success of
Our success
will always be
tethered to
the quality of
our product
Horn control panel

This article was sponsored by Trent Instruments. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister