SR4 compass nominated for UK government "Exported by Britain" campaign

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John Lilley & Gillie are proud to have one of our products nominated in the “Exported by Britain” campaign. This is run by the All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group and askes each MP to put forward an example of an outstanding British business which makes an innovative product for export.


Our SR4 compass has been put forward. The magnetic compass is one of the oldest aids to navigation. It has been in use in one shape or form for over 700 years. At the time this was a revolution in navigation. It ExportedByBritain
allowed long ocean voyages with a much greater prospect of success.

From the tail end of the 19th century through to the beginning of the 20th century two great changes came in compass design. First was the move from dry card compasses to the modern liquid filled compass. Now all marine compass are liquid filled like our SR4 compass.

Second was the use of magnetic compasses on metal ships. This presented a particular problem. The metal of the ships construction would interfere with the readings from the magnetic compass. A solution was required. The correction of the compass was accomplished by placing metal objects around the compass to compensate for the error. This is a highly skilled job that is still required on modern vessels. Indeed with 3 fully qualified compass adjusters in the UK, based both from our head office in North Shields and our London workshop, this is still an important part of our business.

Following these great changes the main focus of compass development has been consolidation and incremental improvements. The magnetic compass bowl has been made of brass for over 100 years and continues to be made that way. This is the big leap forward in design that marks the John Lilley & Gillie SR4 compass as the best Class A compass available in the market. With a body created out of a polycarbonate compound it does not have the problems that brass compasses have with joins potentially leaking. With compasses filled with liquid any leak can cause an air bubble to appear on top of the compass, potently making it harder to read. The SR4 compass completely resolves this problem.

The SR4 has been in the field for over 5 years and no properly maintained compass has developed an air bubble. This is considered a great success and shows that even in the most traditional of products can be improved.

As a fully approved Class A compass for marine use the SR4 is deployed in commercial vessels all over the world. In addition to its use on commercial vessel it is also deployed by many different navies.

At Lilley & Gillie we are very proud of our nomination by our local Member of Parliament, Alan Campbell.AlanCampbell

“John Lilley & Gillie are a fantastic example of a local business that has helped power the local economy for generations. They are a company whichhave made the transition from supplying traditional industry to the forefront of modern technology. Their products range from the traditional nautical products that have not changed much since the days of sailing ships to the cutting edge of marine technology, such as their Navmaster ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems) which are being used around the globe. They buck the trend of companies importing Chinese goods to sell in the UK. Instead they are exporting British designed and manufactured goods the other way. I am proud to nominate this company.”

Alan Campbell, MP for Tynemouth

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CNITA Compass Adjusters

CNITA Compass Adjusters

All MCA qualified


To comply with SOLAS and MCA regulations, you must ensure compasses are adjusted at least every two years by a qualified compass adjuster. Failure to do so may cause danger to shipping in general and delays to your vessel by order of Port State Control Inspectors.


The unique properties of the Magnetic Compass

Why the magnetic compass is still of vital importance

When I joined John Lilley & Gillie in 2004, the company had recently bought a 50% shareholding in a software company with the intention of producing its own ECDIS – the Navmaster ECDIS. Then, I was very quickly introduced to a former owner and MD of the company, who gave me a copy of a report he had written, which demonstrated the importance and unique properties of the magnetic compass. It was a good lesson in understanding the importance and functionality of both electronic and traditional methods of navigation and one that continues to be relevant today.

Whilst this is now 16 years ago, the relevance is still valid.



As you will be aware the Coronavirus is not only affecting personal life, but businesses as well.

Therefore, we feel it is necessary to set out some expectations of what support you will receive from John Lilley & Gillie to try and keep your business running as smooth as possible.

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APM 2018

Asia Pacifia Maritime at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore is one of the stars of the Maritime exhibition calander. 

As always John Lilley & Gillie are astounded and apreciative of the incredable support from our partners for our range of products.