In the postwar peace of 1946 Ilford Limited undertook a review of its business and started an overhaul of its production facilities. The sales committee was revived in February 1946 and the company decided to make a serious entry into the camera market. The company established a number of principles which it refined over time, for its cameras that it saw mainly as a sales vehicle for Ilford film. These were:
· Cameras were to be made for Ilford but not by them
· Ilford designs ideas were to be incorporated
· A range of cameras in 35mm, 127 and 126 cameras were needed
· To cover the requirements of beginners up to advanced amateurs and professionals
· To be sold under the Ilford name and logo
· To carry Ilford film stickers to promote film sales
The first design to emerge was the Witness camera designed by D. A. Rothschild and made by Peto Scott Electrical Instruments. Other amateur designs appeared: the Kershaw Penguin camera was bought in and rebadged as the Prentice camera and the Craftsman, also designed by Rothschild was made. Other cameras were also developed but increasingly the company bought in a range of cameras, which they sold under their own name from, Dacora in Reutlingen, Germany, into the 1960s.
In 1947 Ilford reached an agreement with David Kennedy (Engineers) Ltd to develop a 35mm. camera that would bring miniature (35mm.) photography into a medium-price bracket. James Mitchell, an Ilford director, responsible for developing cameras and the equipment division, worked closely with David Kennedy on this project. A wholly-owned subsidiary called Kennedy Instruments Ltd was formed to handle the project.
In April 1949 the first Advocate cameras appeared and it was formally launched in May 1949 at the British Industries Fair. Early reviews were favourable and the camera seems to have sold well. In January 1953 the Advocate underwent a facelift which introduced several improvements and modifications. The original lens was replaced with a Dallmeyer f/3.5 which gave it more scope with new colour films, the camera was synchronised for flash and their were some other minor modifications. A third series featuring Wray lenses appeared.
According to Harding the Advocate was a disappointment to Ilford. The cost of high quality lenses made the retail price of the Advocate too high to compete with a resurgent German camera industry. From 1957 Ilford increasingly turned to Dangelmaier in Germany to make cameras and a range of inexpensive 35mm. cameras badged as the Ilford Sportsman range appeared.
Kennedy Instruments ceased production of the Advocate in October 1960 and devoted their efforts to the KI Monobar camera.