2017 December meeting

Celestial Navigation and Time

William Bottaci

For our “George Daniels Lecture” we are pleased to welcome William Bottaci from the Croydon Astronomical Society.

We use time to plan, and also not to miss events. It can also be used for another important purpose, navigation.

There is a natural rhythm to our time, from the rotation of our planet and its journey around the Sun, which not only causes events but indicates them. This natural indication, mostly seen as the path (placement) of the Sun across the sky, can actually be used in reverse, to indicate where on Earth it is being observed; basically, if we know the time we know the place.

For practical purposes we require a refinement, and the Sun can only be used at specific moments, sunrise, sunset, and when highest in the sky. It stands to reason that the more ‘suns’ there are the more opportunities, and this brings us to the Moon, and the stars. The refinement extends to know just where the stars are, and when – we need both items of information – because the better we know these the more accurate our location. It only remains to have knowledge of this process, and a means to implement it. Welcome to Celestial Navigation and Time.

William became interested in astronomy just before secondary education, and its associated subjects of photography, navigation and time. Whilst large and expensive equipment was financially and technically out of reach it seemed that celestial navigation is something that is both understandable and feasible, hence the adopted interest as something immediately accessible.


2017 November meeting

November 2, 2017

Branch Auction

The branch auction is one of the highlights of the calendar for many of our members. It is a chance to grab a bargain or make a bit of extra cash by selling those unwanted horological items.

There is always something for everyone at this event, so why not dig out those horological treasures that have been lurking under the bench or in the back of the cupboard, you may be pleasantly surprised at how much they realise.

This is a private auction and is therefore only open to members of the BHI (including Branch members) and horology students from West Dean College. Please bring proof of membership to enable us to issue a bidding number.

Booking in will commence at 18:30 in the Lindley Room.

Viewing will commence in the main hall at 19:00. NO LOTS WILL BE TAKEN IN AFTER 19:45 to allow time for administration and for a prompt start at 20:15.

Payments up to £100 are required to be made in cash. By prior arrangement and agreement with the Treasurer we will accept cheques for total payments over £100.

No commission is charged to buyers. Sellers only pay £1.50 per lot entered. If you wish to set a reserve you must bid up to that price and collect your lot at the end of the evening if not sold.

We reserve the right to refuse any lots containing fluids / powders and the like that are not in secure & sealed containers.

Electrical / electronic items are sold with no guarantee as to their condition or safety. All such equipment should be checked by a suitably qualified electrician.

Full auction rules will be clearly displayed


Monthly branch meetings are normally held at the The White Hart Barn in Godstone


(Godstone Village Hall)



7.30 pm for 8.00 pm Start

2017 October meeting

AGM followed by a talk from our own Alan White

This meeting will be a two stage event. Firstly there will be the AGM where you have the opportunity to find out the current state of branch affairs. There will be reports from the Chairman and Treasurer followed by any questions, and the election of the committee for the coming year.

Please remember to vote at the AGM you must be a member of both our Branch and the BHI at Upton Hall.

Now for our Star Turn!!

Alan White will be showing a video of how he made a fly cutter for wheel cutting and will be happy to answer questions about the process he followed.



2017 September meeting

Edmund Howard (1710-98) A Quaker Clockmaker in Chelsea

Dr James Nye

By sheer chance, James was alerted in the summer of 2016 to the existence of a manuscript autobiography, compiled in 1785, which has been widely used by historians but apparently escaped notice by horologists. It was written in the 1780s by a struggling Chelsea clockmaker, Edmund Howard—a maker virtually unrecorded in the horological literature, who nevertheless left us a remarkably detailed and rich account of his life. A Quaker, yet with few good words for his fellow Friends, Howard lived a long and fascinating life through the bulk of the eighteenth century. James has researched further contextual detail of Howard’s life, and attempted to recover details of his known clocks. He will present the fruits of that research for the first time, in anticipation of publication in Antiquarian Horology in the coming months.

Dr James Nye is Chairman of the AHS, and the founding sponsor of The Clockworks museum in West Norwood. He has had a lifelong interest in electrical horology, and has been Secretary of the AHS Electrical Horology Group for twenty years. He is a member of the Court of the Clockmakers’ Company, and is chairman of its Collections Committee. His book, A Long Time in Making (OUP: 2014) charts the history of Smiths Group.





2017 August meeting

20th Century domestic clocks of England and Wales

Bill Wolmuth

Today, there is a growing appreciation of twentieth century mechanical clocks many of which are superb examples of industrialised production and have complex mechanisms which have proven to be long-lived and reliable. Examples of such clocks are still commonplace and may be found for as little as a few pounds with little wrong with them.

In 2004, two amateur horologists, John Glanville and Bill Wolmuth, embarked on a project to research the history of industrialised manufacture of domestic mechanical clocks in England & Wales in the twentieth century and to form a representative collection of such clocks for the British Museum. The project took ten years to complete and culminated in more than 250 clocks being collected for the Museum, to form what is now known as ‘The Glanville & Wolmuth Collection’, and the recent publication of an illustrated reference book on the subject.

As the majority of these clocks are not marked with the manufacturer’s name or trademark, people have previously found identifying the maker and history of most of them problematic. Fortunately, in undertaking research to form the collection for the Museum, Glanville and Wolmuth have established how to identify and date almost all such clocks.

In his lecture to the Branch, Bill Wolmuth will outline the research undertaken and discuss the company history and clocks of the more significant manufacturers, including The British United Clock Company; Clarion; Davall; Enfield; FW Elliott; Garrard; Gillett & Johnston; JJ Elliott; Newbridge Clocks; Norland; Perivale; Smiths; Tame Side Clocks; and Williamson.

2017 July meeting


Anna Rolls

In a change to our published programme we are very pleased to welcome Anna Rolls from the Royal Observatory Greenwich.

Anna works as a conservator at Greenwich, home to one of the best known time balls of all. The subject of recent conservation work it is now working again but further work is planned. While exploring its history, Anna will also focus on a wide variety of challenges that are faced. For example the time ball has both internal and external parts–the latter having to face the elements–and like any horological object it is expected to endure endless repeated operations. Beyond service issues, there is the unique challenge of existing within an institution, where many different people may play a part. The everyday operation of an object can be influenced by the programme of work of several different departments.

This talk promises to give a “behind the scenes” view of conservation activities that the public do not get to hear about!

As with the June meeting there will be a small selection of wristwatches offered for sale by auction along with a selection reasonably priced horological books. The six watches are shown below.

6 item(s)

Monthly branch meetings are normally held at the The White Hart Barn in Godstone


(Godstone Village Hall)



7.30 pm for 8.00 pm Start

2017 June meeting

June 1, 2017


Leigh Extence

For our June 1st meeting we welcome Leigh Extence from Exeter. Leigh is a third-generation antique dealer whose interest in the high quality workmanship of Drocourt and Jacot drove him to research the hidden depths of these esteemed carriage clockmakers.

In Leigh’s own words:

“In the early 1980s, whilst working with horological dealer and author Derek Roberts in Kent, I took an interest in Jacot carriage clocks, an interest that was to re-emerge some years later having set up on my own account as an antique clock dealer and consultant.
Having bought a rather rare example of a Jacot clock I decided to dig a little deeper and found that by comparison with other major clockmakers, that which had been written about the Jacot family was either rather scant or incorrect. I spent a number of years unearthing as much as I could about both the family and their clocks before holding an exhibition of some thirty examples in 2013. Having realised there was a previously unknown connection between the Jacot and Drocourt families I then undertook the same research for Drocourt and held a further exhibition of Drocourt clocks the following year.
My research has taken in the families, their working practices and their clocks and having undertaken this study I almost feel part of their lives; indeed on finding the death certificate of Pierre Drocourt I felt close to tears!
There have been many exciting surprises over the course of this research; being finally able to identify early pre-1860 ‘unsigned’ Henri Jacot carriage clocks was one, as was being able to verify the relationships with their movement makers; the Baveux and Holingue families of Saint-Nicolas-d’Aliermont, which has now become a further area of research.”

Leigh will be bringing along a number of rare and interesting Carriage Clocks to illustrate his talk.








Special note

The folowing wristwatches will be available to view ahead of auction before the talk commences:

5 item(s)

Monthly branch meetings are normally held at the The White Hart Barn in Godstone


(Godstone Village Hall)



7.30 pm for 8.00 pm Start

2017 May meeting


Matthew Read MA ACR

For our May meeting we welcome Matthew Read and his students from West Dean College. This annual event gives the students a chance to try their hand at public speaking and us the opportunity to hear what is going on in horological education. Students will present on a project that makes up a major part of their coursework for qualification in restoration and conservation of antique clocks. The evening promises good variety and an opportunity for lively discussion.

Stephen      “Why make tools on an FDA Clock making course?”

Eliott            Pierre Leroy’s principles on accurate timekeeping following a description of                          “la Montre A”

Ben               TBA

Fjodor          TBA

Jonathan     TBA

Daniela         Trialling microcontroller technology in dynamic heritage objects

Greg              Swaged pivot holes in 18th century brass clock plates

Dale              The role of culture on the development of clockmaking in Edo period Japan                            (1603 – 1867)

Matthew      Packing for transportation – conservation materials and techniques

Please note the meeting is not at our normal venue but at
The Endeavour Scouting Hall across the road



2017 March meeting

Ticking for Britain – the forgotten history of George W Rickett

For our March lecture, with a change of title to the published programme, we are very pleased to welcome Graham Dolan to present a talk on the work of George W Rickett.

George Rickett worked at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, for nearly 50 years, from 1918 until his retirement towards the end of the 1960s.

Initially assigned to the Time Department which was responsible for both time signals and the testing and rating of the Admiralty’s chronometers, Rickett took charge of the chronometer work following the department’s split at the start of World War 2. At the war’s outbreak, he was evacuated with the chronometers first to Bristol and then to Bradford on Avon. There, with just a small team, he worked tirelessly to keep the armed forces supplied with the properly tested and rated chronometers and watches that they needed, issuing some 21,023 instruments in the last year of the war alone.

In 1948 the Chronometer Department was the first to be moved to the Observatory’s new home at Herstmonceux. Rickett remained its head until the beginning of 1964 when a reorganisation took place resulting in his transfer to the Solar Department.

Graham has written several books and created the website www.royalobservatorygreenwich.org and this evening is an opportunity to meet and discuss the The Royal Observatory with the authoritative voice on its history.

Monthly branch meetings are normally held at the The White Hart Barn in Godstone


(Godstone Village Hall)



7.30 pm for 8.00 pm Start