The Laboratory is named in commemoration of Tony Davies, Professor of Electrical Power Engineering from 1994 until his untimely death on 4 July 2002. Tony Davies joined the University of Southampton in 1978 as Pirelli Lecturer in the Department of Electrical Engineering. At that time high voltage research was conducted in the ‘cables hut’.
The Laboratory moved to its current site in 1991 with funding provided by STC Submarine Systems. Continued growth in activity, both research and commercial testing, was hampered by a fire in November 1997 that largely destroyed the main hall. Within nine months the Laboratory was re-equipped and fully functional
Early in 2002 it was decided to build an extension comprising a second hall and an additional materials/measurements laboratory, funded under the SRIF initiative.
In recognition of his enormous personal contribution to the establishment of a world-class high voltage facility, the University's Council decided that the extended laboratory should be renamed the Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory. A renaming ceremony was held in September 2004.
Activity within the Laboratory has continued to expand and by the end of 2009, it was clear that more space was required to accommodate new projects. The solution was to build an extensive mezzanine floor in the old hall and at the same time rearrange the ground floor to have a series of HV cages housing specific projects or test equipment. The new floor was fully operational by June 2010. As an indirect result of this expansion, the Laboratory has been able to also expand its commercial testing activities in order to meet the growing demand for high voltage testing from both the power and rail industries.
Currently, the Laboratory consists of 7 members of academic staff, 11 full-time research staff, 31 full-time postgraduate students and 12 undergraduate students, who are supported by a Laboratory Manager and 3 technicians. Members of the Laboratory publish the results of their work extensively in refereed journals and at international conferences and a full list is available within E-Prints. In 2007 the 9th IEEE International Conference on Solid Dielectrics was organised by the Laboratory and held in Winchester.