In 1871 Henry Williamson established a company in Coventry to make clocks and watches.
In 1898 the firm took control of a Swiss watchmaking concern in Buren to supply the factory in Coventry with the internal parts for the watches. Apart from watches, Williamson produced a variety of clocks including grandfather clocks, bracket clocks, turret clocks and chime clocks.
By 1903 Williamson had added branch factories in Salisbury and La Chau-de-Fonds in Switzerland. Speedometer production was undertaken at the Buren plant until a fire destroyed the complex.
In 1920 H. Williamson Ltd. merged with another watchmaking firm called Grimshaw & Baxter and diversified into the making of gramophones. In 1928 the company produced clocks under the name Astral and Empire.
Due to the worldwide depression of the 1930s the company was forced into receivership in 1931 and became part of the English Clock and Watch Manufacturers which was taken over by Smiths English Clocks in 1932. Smiths continued with the production of Astral clocks until 1955.