Historical information

Diver's Submarine Electric Torches were first developed to give illumination for close examination work. They have to be self-contained, the older ones are powered by an accumulator type battery which could be recharged. Some models were fitted with a switch to turn the light off saving on the battery power. The lens is of a convex type and magnifies the light. Sometimes there was a protective grill across the glass or prongs to protect the glass from an impact. When fully charged the battery would last about seven hours. Torches are made from non-ferrous metal so as not to corrode in their watery environment. Siebe Gorman & Co Ltd has been producing hand-held, battery-powered, submarine electric torches for divers and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) since the 1920s. In 1961, the famous diving manufacturer C.E. Heinke merged with Siebe Gorman, and for a short while, torches were made with the combined 'Siebe Heinke' inscription. However, this linked inscription was later dropped, with a return to the Siebe Gorman name tag. Date of manufacture for these torches can be determined by their Admiralty Pattern (AP) number that was used to identify a particular item and were for naval stores use. Before NATO stock coding became more widely used, earlier MOD torches often have a simple four-digit group of AP numbers such as AP4456 or AP4458. In 1975 Siebe Gorman moved from their Neptune Works at Chessington in Surrey to a new location at Cwmbran in Wales and by this time their manufacture of diving equipment had declined. (For additional historic company information on Siebe & Gorman see notes section this document.)

Significance

The item is significant as it gives us a snapshot into marine history and the development of diving equipment generally, especially that used for salvage operations before and during WW2. The company that made the torch Siebe Gorman was a leading inventor, developer and innovator of marine equipment with its early developments in helmets, compressors and other diving equipment. Items that are today eagerly sought after for maritime collections around the world. The items that have been donated to the Flagstaff Hill collection give us an insight as to how divers operated and the dangers they faced doing a very necessary and dangerous job.

Physical description

Diver's Torch brass with heavy glass screw on piece with four lugs attached contact spring inside. Leather hand strap missing.

Inscriptions & markings

"Siebe Gorman and Co Ltd, Makers, London." Has "A.P.4458" inscribed on front above glass