Horstmann Newbridge Mechanical Time Switch – Automatic Gas controller


e-mail: all.round.controls@gmail.com

Please visit http://all-round-controls.co.uk for clock repairs – and other similar repairs too!

This is about a timer, an “old timer”. Not a person, but the Horstmann Newbridge gas valve time switch, sometimes seen as the “AUNI” clockwork street gas lamp controller. I have also been informed that it is properly called the “Horstmann Automatic Gas Controller” to give it its full name. Most are 14 day mechanisms.

It is a totally mechanical timer needing a wind-up every 7 or 14 days depending upon the mechanism type used, which is probably by year of manufacture.

A guess on the manufacturing dates would be from possibly well before the 1940’s to the 1960’s approx; but Horstmann may be able to tell you if you contact them here. (http://www.horstmann.co.uk/) Some clocks have labels still inside the lid giving the manufacture and test date, and the quality control stamp to say it had passed the testing etc.

I did contact Horstmann earlier about the Horstmann Newbridge clocks, and they said that Mr George Eric Messenger in the UK at Heating Control Services in Walsall was the only person who repaired them, or really knew anything about them as such.

Horstmann only have limited documentation about them from old instruction and advertising leaflets in PDF format.

Horstmann Automatic Gas Controller
Horstmann Automatic Gas Controller

The example picture lower down shows the “round object”, which is the clock to turn the lamp on and off. A small pilot light keeps the lamp ready to ignite when it turns on at its assigned time. The lamp will turn off when the “off” actuating arm closes the valve at it’s selected set off time.

I used to help on the repair of these sometimes, between 1988 and 1992 when I worked at “Heating Control Services” In Walsall, West Midlands.

To add a sorry note… Mr George Eric Messenger of the now defunct Heating Control Services passed away in 2010 unfortunately. He was continuing to repair the Horsmann clocks at his home up until 2009. Heating control services closed in Bradford street early in the “noughties”, and moved to Bradford Place, Walsall, up to about 2008.

I am now repairing these Horstmann Newbridge clocks myself  worldwide, as I was used to doing the repairs, and have taken it up as a small business, and hobby.

If anyone needs the “Horstmann Automatic Gas Controller” repairing, I will be willing to have a look at it, subject to part availability, and any spares that I have managed to source elsewhere online.

Please see http://all-round-controls.co.uk where you can see my up-and-coming second website offering a repair service for these Horstmann clocks, and similar ones like them, as well as repairs to other similar clockwork controls.

If anyone needs to get one or more of the Horstmann Newbridge Gas Controllers refurbished, then please get in touch, as I am buying spares in from all over the world to be able to do the repairs and have the spares at hand.

By all means contact me at the  bottom of this web page, on http://all-round-controls.co.uk , or go to “About Mark Lawton” and get one of my email address, and I’ll see what I can do, thanks.

We used to collect quite a few of these Horstmann Clocks, each month, and refurbish them and return them to the customer.

If any spares were available, they would be used as required.

Horstmann Gas Lamp in a street
Horstmann Gas Lamp

Note in the example above that the casing is a bluish colour; this may well be one that we repaired in the past.

Upon reassembly, we would check that they would keep good time.

Horstmann are an old company, and quoting below there is some history from them starting from when they did the first gas controller for a heating boiler (featured at the bottom of the page, “MK 2 Controller”)…

“1950 The birth of Horstmann’s Central Heating Control Business.
Gas controllers were adapted to fit on gas boilers to provide one of the first methods of timing central heating.

1939 War production included:
astro compass
mine switch clock
radio transmitter for direction finding

1925 G Horstmann & Sons’ retail business in Union Street closed.

1920 The slump caused diversifications into products such as:
gardening equipment (the Dandy Dibber)
domestic clocks
mousetraps (contract with Woolworth’s)
Main markets were in street lighting, gas ignition (3V glowcoil igniters used on gas lights, cookers and other appliances), general purpose time switches, and gauges

1915 Newbridge Works was opened.
The property was owned by various members of the family – the block containing the Conference Room and Board Room consists of 2 houses once occupied by members of the Horstmann family.
The site covers about 4’/2 acres.

1914 Horstmann started making screw and limit gauges for military production, becoming a leading UK Gauge manufacturer until the business was sold in 1990.

1905 56, Walcot Street was acquired for gas controller manufacture.

1904 The Solar Dial was patented.
This was the first dial which automatically altered ‘ON’ & ‘OFF’ times each day to follow the varying times of dusk and dawn through the year. It gave Horstmann a worldwide technical lead.

Foundation of The Horstmann Gear Company Ltd. Sidney Horstmann (Gustav’s youngest son) designed an ingenious gear box for cars and motor cycles. It had an infinitely variable gear ratio – using expanding pinions. Sidney, together with his brothers Albert, Hermann, Otto, and brother-in-law William Edgar, amongst others, founded The Horstmann Gear Company Limited to exploit it. Both the ‘shop’ and the new company were now at 10, Union Street. The gearbox was not a success, but Sidney went on to make cars in his own business, also in Bath, producing about 1500 Horstmann Cars between 1913 and 1929, incorporating many novel features in them. Altogether about 10 still exist.

The gas controllers were now so popular, production was transferred from G Horstmann & Sons to The Horstmann Gear Company Ltd.

1902 The birth of Horstmann’s Control Business. G Horstmann & Sons had now developed into a thriving retail and clock making business. They developed a clockwork gas controller for automatic control of street-lighting – which was far superior to anything else – for a Mr W T Ellery of the Bath Gas and Coke Company.

1893 Gustav died. By this time he had about 100 patents to his name.

1866 Gustav Horstmann designed a self-winding clock and was granted a patent on his invention for “ A New or Improved Mode of Obtaining Motive Power, which Power can be used for Winding Clocks, Timepieces and other Mechanism, and also for Ventilating Hot-houses, Green-houses, and all Buildings where a Uniform Temperature is desirable.”

1856 Gustav Horstmann invented the first micrometer to measure 1/10,000th of an inch reliably. The original is in the Science Museum, South Kensington.

1854 Gustav Horstmann set up a clock making and retailing business (later G. Horstmann and Sons) in Bennet Street, Bath. He was a prolific inventor, and apart from his horological skills, a pioneer in measurement and thermostatic control.

1853 Gustav Horstmann who was born 1828 in Westphalia, Germany, and studied in Paris under Dejean (a watchmaker from the school of the famous Breguet), emigrated to England.
He was the founder of the Horstmann family in Bath.”

The full article can be found here dating from the present right back to the start of the Horstmann history…


I enclose some pictures showing the clock that I bought as a memento from eBay for just £5.00!

And yes, it does work! I have the key, and the complete clock. It is a beauty!


How about this one that a chap named Matthew Saunders sent in to me after reading my web-page…

Horstmann Automatic Gas Controller- Horstmann Newbridge Clock Days Of Week
Horstmann Newbridge Clock Days Of Week

It has a what appears to be a day omission wheel, so you can set which days you want it to switch on and off. I have seen one with two pegs for each day, which allows half day omissions of operation as well as full days.

There is also a Horstmann boiler control, which is much the same, except it had a few more features, and fitted onto the side of a cast-iron boiler, where it directly controlled the gas burner turning it on and off to save money when not needed. Don’t forget we are going back a long time here on this one below!


The above clock is rare, and may possibly be collectable!

Matthew had a clock refurbished by Mr. Eric Messenger through me acting as a contact in the UK. He had it cleaned, and regulated. This has to be in late 2009, as Mr. Messenger passed away in 2010 unfortunately as I have already said above.

I now repair these clocks, so if you need any doing, you can send them to me, and I will see what I can do to fix them up and refurbish them.

More PDF’s directly requested from Horstmann, click on each one in turn to read some old leaflets about the Horstmann Automatic Gas Controller…

Horstmann Automatic Gas Controller 1

Horstmann Automatic Gas Controller 2

Horstmann Automatic Gas Controller 3

Horstmann Automatic Gas Controller 4

I also have information on how to date them…

How to date your Hortmann Automatic Gas Controller

For a look at other projects I have undertaken, such as my LPG conversion kit installation, please go here…


Mark Lawton



e-mail: all.round.controls@gmail.com

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