Henry Hughes founded the company, still going strong, in 1917, though its origins date back to the 18th century. A merger created the Kelvin & Hughes company in 1947 and we estimate our lifeboat compass to date circa 1950s.
The compass and its gimbal are in fully working order, and the oil lamp that illuminated it remains in place (see photo, would need some restoration). A naked flame had to be used as a battery would have thrown out the compass.
These smaller versions of the large ship’s binnacle were used in the lifeboats, to guide the way to land and/or to communicate position. A piece of kit that was essential for survival back in the day.