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03 - British Heinke 6-Bolt Diving Helmet

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British 'C.E.Heinke & Co Ltd' 6-Bolt Diving Helmet

A lovely, authentic and rare 6-bolt diving helmet by C E Heinke & Co Ltd, London. with numbers as follows: Bonnet (#505), Breast Plate and Rear Braile (#497), Front Braile (#507).

Circular side windows (with screw in guards), circular front window with spitcock lower right and pepper pot outlet behind left hand side window, rear air inlet and comms, lanyard hooks to either side. Please note that the Heinke (Patent) air inlet valve is stamped and numbered ‘373 HEINKE’,

Dated around the 1910-20s (Collar); as we know Heinke made this design between 1871 and 1922. The bonnet is older (although the number is higher); we believe it to be late 1800's!

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The Heinke company roots can be traced back to one man, Gotthilf ‘Frederick’ Heinke (1786-1871), who was an immigrant coppersmith from Prussia. G.F. Heinke started his business in 1819 and he had a workshop at 103 Great Portland Street (London). Around 1858, postal re-numbering changed this address to 79 Great Portland Street (London). For business reasons, he applied for and was granted British citizenship in 1858. His wife, Sarah eventually bore them three sons and two daughters. G.F. Heinke’s second son, Charles Edwin Heinke (1818-1869), steered the family firm more towards ‘Submarine Engineering’ and the manufacture of ‘diving apparatus’. At this time the firm traded as ‘C.E. HEINKE’ Submarine Engineers (1844-1871).

Another Heinke family firm, ‘Heinke Brothers’ (1863-1867) traded as ’Submarine Engineers’ to the Royal Navy, Royal Engineers, Indian and other foreign governments. Their address is given as 78-79 Gt. Portland Street. Around 1844, Charles Heinke produced the firm’s first diving helmet and worked to improve upon the helmet designs of A. Siebe. One noticeable difference of many Heinke helmets is a solid, cast brass breastplate (corselet) instead of a beaten copper one, and the introduction of the “peppermill” exhaust valve.

The family firms were in trouble following the sudden successive deaths of C.E. Heinke (in 1869, aged 51), Brother William (in 1870, aged 54) and their father G.F. Heinke (in 1871, aged 85) a year later. Subsequent personal rifts caused division in family allegiances. However, Gotthilf ‘Henry’ Heinke (1820-1899), the only surviving son, saved the main family business under the new trading name of ‘C.E. HEINKE & Co.’ Submarine Engineers (1871-1922). Gotthilf ‘Henry’ Heinke brought in a new partner, William Robert Foster (of ‘Foster and Williams’, who were diving dress and air pipe suppliers working from premises at 87 Grange Road, Bermondsey). In 1884, failing health forced ‘Henry’ Heinke to retired at the age of 64, and he sold the company to Robert Fox (his brother-in-law) and William Foster. In 1899 William Foster died, and his company shares were bought by three new partners, F.H. Sprang (who held shares in ‘Foster and Williams’), J.H. Blake and J. Holman. Their active involvement and experience contributed towards future Heinke successes. Robert Fox died in 1902 and his shares were bought by the three other partners. The ‘Foster and Williams’ company was incorporated into C.E. Heinke & Co. and when the premises lease on Gt. Portland St. expired in 1904, production shifted to the previous ‘Foster and Williams’ premises at ‘87, 88 and 89 Grange Road, Bermondsey, London SE’. In 1922 Heinke became a public company and traded as ‘C.E. Heinke & Co. Ltd’ Submarine Engineers (1922-1961).

The new company flourished until the early 1950s, but like so many companies, it stagnated through post war austerity, lack of innovation and investment. About 1961 ‘C.E. Heinke & Co. Ltd.’ was incorporated into ‘Siebe Gorman & Co. Ltd’. For a few years (1961-1967) some products were sold under a combined ‘SIEBE-HEINKE’ name. However, around 1968 this linked name was dropped with a return to the ‘SIEBE GORMAN’ maker’s name. Unfortunately much of the Heinke company records were lost in the bombing during the Blitz of WW2. Whatever was left of the Heinke company archives was systematically burnt by the remaining company director prior to the Siebe Gorman take-over.

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