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'1917' J. H. Steward Orilux Trench Torch

'1917' J. H. Steward Orilux Trench Torch

Price £185.00 Sale

An iconic WW1 object - the J. H. Steward 'Orilux' electric torch, dating from c.1915. As used by the main characters in the 2020 Oscar winning film 1917, during the scenes where they were exploring the enemy underground bunkers and tunnels. Winston Churchill took an Orilux with him to the Western Front in 1915. He carried it in his breast pocket, where in February 1916 it saved him from the impact of a piece of shrapnel that might have proved fatal. The badly damaged Orilux is now in the collection of the National Trust. (Churchill's Orilux looks identical to the one offered for sale here).

The Orilux has a leather case with flip top lid held on by a short leather strap. The lid is fastened with a further strap and held in place by a metal stud. On the back are two straps forming belt loops to be worn on Sam Browne equipment. Contained within the case is a rectangular torch made of metal, covered in leather. On the top are two press buttons, one large and one small, either side of a plate which reads 'The Orilux, J H Steward, 406, Strand, London'. On the front is a large screw-on bulls-eye lens, behind which sits the bulb. At the base, held on by two pivoting clips, is a hinged flap which gives access to  the battery compartment.

J. H. Steward: established his business in London in 1852. As a maker and retailer of optical, scientific, military and surveying instruments. J.H. Steward was the head optician of the company and had businesses at 406 Strand, 457 West Strand and 54 Cornhill in London. In the mid 1800s he became the optician to Her Majesty's Government and the National Rifle, and National Artillery Associations. James Henry Steward died in 1896. J. H. Steward Ltd was incorporated in 1912 and continued in business until 1975.


The Orilux torch is in good condition, with general signs of wear and use. The leather covering is in good condition. The body has a ding to one side (battle damage?). The switches move as they should, and the battery flap at the base opens and closes well. The bulls-eye type lens is in good condition, with some scratches. The original bulb is present, though untested. The torch has not been tested, but as it's electrics are quite basic, it should be fairly easy to get it working. (Apparently, a modern 4.5V battery and matching bulb will work very well in the Orilux). The fitted leather case is in very good condition, with some wear to the belt loops and lid straps.


Dimensions : 135mm length, 90mm width, 30mm depth