Sestrel compass

Object number

LDVAL 2006.9.1

Date

after 1929 – before 1980

Description

Sestrel nautical ships compass. Made by Henry Browne and Son Ltd, of Barking, who made aviation and nautical compasses, clocks and dials. The company made compasses form, notably, Spitfires, Tigermoths and Concord. Henry Browne was born in Lewis, Sussex in 1842 and died in Barking in 1935. His company was a well respected English instrument maker that had been making and selling fine quality compasses, ship's clocks, inclinometers, sextants, and chandlery items for over 140 years. It started in a factory in Brightlingsea, Essex and moved to Barking in 1929. The Trade Mark brand Sestrel was used on all their equipment. Their “Dead Beat“ compass design is well dampened and serves to reduce oscillations. It is reported that this design compass was fitted to many Allied ships during WW II. The company went through a boom period in the 1970s but collapsed in the 1980s due to the popularity of cheaper plastic compasses over tradition brass ones. Over the more recent years, there has been a consolidation of British instrument makers and the firm of Henry Browne & Son has changed hands a number of times. At last count, it became part of Lillie & Gillie of London for what may be the second time. The model name ame about via the following: Take first two letters of the word Sensitive
Take first two letters of steady
Take first three letters of reliable

Physical description

Hand bearing compass with a wooden (teak?) handle and brass case. The case has been painted black. The compass dial is a metal disk suspended in a clear liquid. A metal arm extends over the compass face which supports an adjustable prism. The prism magnifies and reflects the readings on the compass face. The compass may have been set within a binnacle for steady readings whilst at sea.

Condition

Good

Type

Compass

Size

Whole height: 222mm
Casing Depth: 62mm
Circumference: 105mm
Handle length: 108mm
Circumference: 39mm

Material

Casing: Brass
Handle: Wood
Prism: Glass

Collection type

Social history

Inscription

Mark Stamped On Rim of casing: Henry Browne & Son Ltd ‘Sestrel’ Trade Mark No. 7815/B Made In England Barking & London

Alternative reference

Entry Number 1642 (2006-02-06)

Looking for child records

Objects that are not on display in the museum can be viewed by appointment at the discretion of the Museum Curator. To find out more about accessing the collection please email: valencehousemuseum@lbbd.gov.uk or telephone: 020 8227 2034

5 thoughts on “Sestrel compass

  1. SIR I HAVE A SESTRAL SHIPS COMPASS NUMBER 20059 V/F/B HENRY BROWNE .. SON LTD THE DOME IS DAMAGED CAN YOU ADVISE WHERE I CAN GET A REPLACEMENT DOME . THE COMPASS IS SET INTO A CONTAINER OF WHAT APPEARS TO BE A LIGHT TYPE OF OIL WHAT IS THE REASON FOR THIS HOPE YOU CAN HELP WITH THE FOREGOING THANK YOU FRANK MC GHEE.

    1. I have a Sestrel Mark 5 number 2213 can anyone give me some likely history of this compass and with what liquid is it filled. It has the makers name on the pointer of, GILLIE-SESTREL.

  2. We have aquired a Sestrel Mark 5 compass which is quite heavy, it has a number on it 2213, can anyone tell me how old it is. It is in need of refurbishment.

  3. We have a quarter sized ‘Sestrel’ binnacle with a fluid compass mounted inside. It is in all respects visually a working binnacle but I suspect it was made as a display item for Ships Chandlers/ Compass seller/ Compass adjusters advertising purposes. Other than the small ‘soft iron spheres’ there is no provision for correcting magnets so it is a very nice decorative rather than a working item.

    It has a brass plate on it ‘Station Works’ Barking Essex Type “A”

    Is there any information on these Binnacles at all please?

    Captain David Barnes
    Westport New Zealand

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Gallery

Metadata
Start dateafter 1929
End datebefore 1980
InstitutionValence House Museum
TypeCompass
Material
Brass
Wood
Glass
Collection typeSocial history