2022 June Meeting

9th June 2022

Ron Rose FBHI.

An evening with Ron Rose, James Cole, James Ferguson Cole and Thomas Cole.

Our chairman James Marten introduced our meeting with a brief silence remembering a long-standing member, Alan Turner, who sadly passed away on Wednesday 11th of May.

Please see Mike Barbers obituary of him in last month’s newsletter.

Dudley Withers of the Hand Engraver Association made us aware of their AGM and annual lecture which will take place 22nd of June 2022 at the Royal Academy of Arts. There will be examples of engraved dials, pocket watches and an English carriage clock. After the AGM the highlight of the evening will be a talk from renowned Dr Tessa Murdoch “Huguenots, Horology, and Engravers in London 1680 to 1760”. Sadly, not in time for publication of this newsletter but if any SLB members attend please let us know how it went.

Ron Rose

In Ron’s opinion the book by John Hawkins, “Thomas Cole and Victorian Clockmaking” put the Cole family on the map. The majority of clocks studied in this publication are in the Harris collection at Belmont. The two brothers James Ferguson Cole and Thomas Cole achieved greatness at young ages, 23 and 25. But where did this talent emanate from. Ron showing the family tree introduced us to James “conjurer” Cole, father of the two boys. Conjurer Cole was baptised 1762 Marrying Catherine Slocombe in 1792 who was 11 years younger.

In a book, “The Thristle Clockmakers of Somerset”, by Nial and Deborah Woodford Ron gratefully pointed out, this helped him with several dates and facts. In that book an extract from “Paupers and Pig Killers” a diary of William Holland, a Somerset Parson.

Friday, 20 November 1800. Walked to Stowey with my little boy, met my wife there. Went to Conjurer Coles as they call him. He is a clockmaker and an extraordinary genius but a Democrat from having too much religion has now none at all. He made wonderful clock for the Duke of Somerset that goes 12 months without winding up.

James made three, year-duration longcase clocks. one a full-size with perpetual calendar and musical, playing the tune once per day. One diminutive in size but also perpetual. The third one which Ron had been very instrumental in restoring to its former glory was recorded on video by his good friend Peter Elliott and we were able to go through this with Ron as he explained the intricacies of the layout of the dial, the shutters that operated the sunrise and sunset, the moon wheel, and the flyback perpetual calendar in the break arch. A complicated clock for the little-known Somerset clockmaker to produce circa 1795. The whole clock was not much taller 5 foot six and driven by a weight of 48 Lbs, raised with a ratcheting pumped arm. As with all these clocks the pumping arm drops out of the way when not in use, Ron pointed out if there were a spring the lever would be carried around with the gear train.