FREE DELIVERY on all UK orders | Unconditional guarantee on every item
H. Hughes & Son Ltd Night Marching Compass c.1914

H. Hughes & Son Marching Compass

Price £145.00 Sale

A H. Hughes & Son Ltd Night Marching pocket compass, dating from c.1903-1914. This would have been an officer's private purchase item for military use. The compass features an aluminium card with hand-painted North-South markers, red 'N' marker, painted centre, and jewelled pivot. The card may have been painted with a luminous compound (most probably ‘Balmain’s Luminous Paint’), which was activated by exposure to very bright light, often created by burning a strip of magnesium ribbon. There is a sighting window in the lid. The compass has a brass case, a transit lock, and a manual brake. Compasses of this type are known to have been manufactured by Francis Barker from around 1875 onwards, being gradually replaced by the Verner's Patent types in the years leading up to the start of the First World War. The compass is signed on the lid by 'H. Hughes & Son Ltd, 59 Fenchurch St, London’.

H. Hughes & Son Ltd: were established in London in 1828. They were originally clock makers in the East End of London who later supplied sextants and chronometers to ships coming into the Thames. Henry Hughes was known to have been working from 1840 at 3 Union Terrace, Commercial Road, London, from 1845-55 at 120 Fenchurch Street, from 1859-75 at 50 Fenchurch Street and from 1867 at 36 Trinity Square, Tower Hill. In 1903 The firm was incorporated as Henry Hughes & Son Ltd. By 1914 they were specialising in instruments and appliances required for the navigation of ships; and were nautical instrument makers for the navy. During WW1 they Developed the first compass for use in aeroplanes. Post-WW1 the company was awarded £2,250 by the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors in respect of communication to the US government of inventions, designs, etc in relation to aircraft and aircraft accessories, specifically aircraft compasses. In 1935 a controlling interest in the company was acquired by Smiths, resulting in the development of marine and aircraft instruments. In 1941, following the London office's destruction in the Blitz, a collaboration was entered into with Kelvin, Bottomley and Baird, and in 1947 As a result of the success of this collaboration, the two companies amalgamated as Kelvin and Hughes.


In good original condition, and good working order. The compass finds north well. The brass case is in good condition, with general signs of use and a few marks. The compass card and glass are in very good condition. The transit lock and manual brake are working well. The lid does not completely 'snap' shut, but the hinge is strong. The leather case is in very good condition.

Dimensions: 50mm diameter (75mm inc. loop)