Do you know anything about a link between South Shields and this sextant?

The crest on the sextant
The crest on the sextant

A marine enthusiast is on the hunt to discover more information about a nautical instrument with a South Tyneside crest on it.

Des McLindon, 67, used the sextant for navigation during his time in the Merchant Navy but, after he retired, became curious abou the crest and wans to find out more.

The sextant owned by Des McLindon.

The sextant owned by Des McLindon.

Mr McLindon, who lives in Portsmouth, bought the tool second hand at a shop in Cardiff back in 1971.

After using it during his service - which saw him being a river pilot - he became keen to discover its origins and now hopes local experts or Gazette readers may be able to help him find out more.

He said: “I have been told it was manufactured in the 19th century, around 1850.
“It is something that I used when I was at sea and, when I retired, I started writing to people to to find out more about it.”

The sextant has the name ‘T. L Ainsley, South Shields’ etched on it and a crest with the words ‘Always Ready’

The name on the  sextant

The name on the sextant

He added: “I have discovered that the Ainsley firmhad sextants made and signed from a firm in Barry in South Wales.

“I also think they were bought out by Lilleys the compass adjusters firm.”

From his initial research Mr McLindon has discovered the motto ‘Always Ready’ comes from the motto of South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade.

It is believed the instrument was manufactured in South Shields and was badged by a local firm, suggesting firm John Lillie & Gilley Ltd were involved, but the firm says they do not have this on their records.

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade honourary secretary Tom Fennelly.

South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade honourary secretary Tom Fennelly.

After looking at the instrument, Tom Fennelly, honorary secretary of South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade, said: “My first impression is that this looks like a nautical instrumental probably manufactured here in South Shields or perhaps badged by a local firm.

“T L Ainsley Ltd operated from the Mill Dam, in South Shields and was a well-known manufacturer of nautical instruments.

“The firm was taken over in 1968 by the world-famous firm of John Lillie & Gilley Ltd of North Shields which is still in business today.

“The badge is very definitely the original South Shields town crest which was adopted when the Borough of South Shields was incorporated in 1850.

“Incidentally the badge was adopted by South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade when it was formed in 1866 and the ‘Always Ready’ motto is still used by the brigade. It also forms part of the present day South Tyneside Council crest.”

*Do you know anything about the crest?

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