Maker of scientific instruments Enrico [Henry] Angelo Ludovico Negretti was born on 13 November 1818 in Como. His father operated a horse-drawn coach service over the St Gotthard Pass, but young Negretti had other ideas and moved to London in 1830. He learned his instrument skills under two established makers: Caesar Tagliabue, a barometer and thermometer maker from Como, long resident at no. 23 Hatton Garden, and Francis Augustus Pizzala, at no. 4 Dorrington Street.
In 1841 Negretti moved into Angelo Tagliabue’s former workshop at no. 19 Leather Lane, recently acquired by Jane Pizzi, whose late husband Valentine had been a barometer maker. The partnership of Pizzi & Negretti continued until 1844, after which Negretti continued trading from the same address, before forming a partnership with Anglo-Italian Joseph Warren Zambra at no. 11 Hatton Garden in 1850.
The skill of the Negretti & Zambra partnership became apparent at the 1851 Great Exhibition where they were the only English instrument makers to receive a prize medal. They were appointed instrument makers to the Queen, Greenwich observatory, and the British Meteorological Society. The firm’s 1859 catalogue described 2,134 items and instruments and this range doubled a few years later. They also made and supplied photographic equipment. Negretti was naturalised as a British subject on 11 April 1862. When Garibaldi visited London again in 1864, Negretti led the reception committee. In 1874 the family moved to Cricklewood where he died of pneumonia at his home, Cricklewood House, in September 1879. The company of Negretti & Zambra prospered, diversifying into aircraft and industrial instruments in 1920, but succumbing to take-over in 1981 by Western Scientific.