2023 February Meeting

2nd February 2023 – POSTPONED DUE TO ILLNESS.

“Chronometry and Chronometers on British Voyages of Exploration 1819 to 1836.”

Dr. Emily Akkermans

It has been sometime since our past president Jonathan Betts retired from the Royal Greenwich Observatory, though he is still curator emeritus. David Rooney is now a freelance author. Our past chairman Rory McEvoy also has moved on to pastures new and Anna Rolls has become the curator of the Clockmakers Museum. So, I am delighted to welcome Dr Emily Akkermans Curator of Time to the South London Branch in a hope to continue its long-term connection to horology at Greenwich.

Dr. Emily Akkermans studied horology at the Vakschool, Schoonhoven, Netherlands and has been working with the collection at Greenwich since June 2018. When Emily was appointed as curator of time she was studying for a PhD, and I’m delighted she successfully defended her thesis. Tonight’s lecture is the culmination of the research work she has been doing on the use of Chronometers at sea. In particular during the first half of the 19th century when they came into widespread use.

She will examine the practices that were adopted by Royal Naval officers on scientific expeditions that took place between 1819 – 1836. These are Edward Parry’s three attempts to find the North-West passage. William Fitzwilliam Owen’s survey of the East Coast of Africa. Henry Foster’s scientific expedition in the Atlantic and Robert Fitzroy’s survey of South America and circumnavigation.

By their very nature chronometers can be delicate temperamental instruments that require a delicate touch from one who is familiar in their use, trained in taking readings and the mathematics of piloting these. Emily will include the social and institutional network in which the user of these instruments operated. The role of State, of the Admiralty and the Royal Society. And how the determination of longitude developed not from one instrument but through the interaction and use of a variety of instruments and methods.

-Duncan Greig

Doors open at 19:30, Starting 20.00 hours.

The meeting will be held at The White Hart Barn in Godstone.

THE WHITE HART BARN (Godstone Village Hall)



7.30pm for 8.00pm Start

2023 January Meeting

5th January 2023


Our next meeting has been affected by the transport strikes, the speaker is not confident of being able to fit in our meeting with other commitments and is postponing until later in the year. Instead, we will be showing a DVD, amongst others we have one that is produced by Patek Philippe, a name that always intrigues. I haven’t seen it but I’m sure that it will live up to their reputation.


I have to apologise to members for not sharing the last meeting by Zoom as we originally planned. We were unable to set it up. The format has proved very useful during lockdown, despite the tech problems and the time setting up a functioning link. Our attempts to keep the link going, which is good for distant members and those too unwell or at risk to travel, have been dogged by tech problems and not having someone who is willing and able to take control and run the link. Sadly, for these reasons we have decided to discontinue zoom meetings for the present unless we can provide a good service.

-James Marten

Doors open at 19:30, Starting 20.00 hours.

The meeting will be held at The White Hart Barn in Godstone.

THE WHITE HART BARN (Godstone Village Hall)



7.30pm for 8.00pm Start

2022 December Meeting

8th December 2022



How fortunate we were that David Cottrell was available to accept the invitation to speak to the South London Branch for this, “The George Daniels Memorial Lecture”.

A former BorgWarner precision toolmaker, with no horological experience, David read “Watchmaking” by George Daniels. A 2013 Christmas gift, from his wife. Nine years later he is showing us his first and second watches, explaining how he designed and made an exquisite four-minute tourbillion, with separate drive to the second’s hand. The single-minded dedication and perseverance are hard to imagine.

After making his first watch, a minute tourbillion with Daniels Coaxial escapement, David studied the Derek Pratt remontoir/tourbillion idea and the physics behind the concept which has the advantage of isolating the escape wheel from rotational inertia of the carriage. He then designed on CAD a four-minute tourbillion, the slower rotational speed being another approach to reducing the energy in the system and hence loading on the escape wheel during locking. Shock protection for the carriage support was achieved with David’s unique design of a swan neck bracket. The weight of the carriage was 3g and the swan neck bracket was tested to a weight of 15g to simulate a 5G shock. For the second watch David decided to machine a Roger Smith one piece type escape wheel from silver steel. He discussed and showed the tool making processes to make constant form relief cutters for the locking teeth. The inner, raised, impulse teeth were profiled using a 0.5mm cutter. To machine some of the complex curved parts was challenging without the assistance of CNC.

When making parts it is often necessary to record a specific temperature to harden and temper the part and then to measure the hardness of the finished piece. These processes require prohibitively expensive instruments which may be used just occasionally. So, David took us through the prosses of designing and making his own hardness tester. This was driven by the need to ensure that the form relieved cutters made for the escape wheel would retain their edge. Heat treatment of these cutters proved to be critical, with a narrow temperature range – 806 and 816C. To check the accuracy of a furnace he passed on a tip that table salt, conveniently melts at 800c. Another little detail was he likes to make the screws with curved heads where appropriate.

Duncan thanked David for a very technical and inspiring lecture which was followed by many questions from the audience and a presentation of the appropriate lubricant. To give an idea of the quality of the workmanship, you might like to google www.instagram.com/djcotterellwatches.

Was it worth the effort? It sure was!!!

-Duncan Greig

Doors open at 19:30, Starting 20.00 hours.

For those of you not able to attend log in details will be sent in a separate email. Please log in from 19:40 .

The meeting will be held at The White Hart Barn in Godstone.

THE WHITE HART BARN (Godstone Village Hall)



7.30pm for 8.00pm Start

2022 November Auction

10th November 2022

We are pleased to be able to hold the branch auction which is one of the highlights of our calendar for many 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, BHI Branches, West Dean College or Epping Forest Horology Centre. Please bring proof of membership to enable us to issue a bidding number.

Details are as follows:

Booking in will commence at 18:15 in the Lindley Room which is the left hand door side room. This will need to be done quietly and no entrance to the main hall will be allowed.

Entry to the main hall – and viewing – will not be available until 19.30.

NO LOTS WILL BE TAKEN IN AFTER 19:45 to allow time for administration and for a start of around at 20:30.

The branch has been entrusted with the disposal of the late John Hatt’s effects, some of which will be available if members lots do not fill the auction.

Payments for purchasers 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

2022 October Meeting

13th October 2022



Duncan Grieg introduced us to Mike Bundock who gave us a talk on clock towers. Having spent thirty years researching and viewing many of the three hundred examples in Great Britain and the Isle of Man, he is the expert to give us a definition of his subject. A clock tower is free standing without any adjoining construction such as a bell tower.

In some cases, the Architectural and building costs were borne by dignitaries of the town or City, the largest contribution would be from the local MP and lesser amounts donated by the lower orders. There would be a public list of subscribers and the amount they contributed, such as in Weymouth. Many structures were financed by public donation, and where there was a financial shortfall, the Council would have to make good the deficit. The Council would often end up having to pay for the maintenance and the clock winder as there would be no method of automatic winding.

The conventional construction would be of brick with an outer skin of a local quality stone if there was a nearby quarry, or possibly a Scottish granite would have to be imported. Portland stone (as in Bexleyheath) was popular or even a quality brick might be acceptable. In Douglas, (Isle of Man) a clock tower was constructed of cast Iron which was delivered in sections and assembled on site. Much easier and less expensive than conventional methods.

There are examples of clock towers having to be moved in later years to give way to traffic demands as in Cricklewood, Cockermouth and Newbury. Clock towers were usually built to commemorate a major event such as the memorial to Prince Albert in Barnstable and Queen Victoria at Much Wenlock and Gravesend. There are war memorials to the dead as on the clock towers at Rainham, Studham and Nailsworth. Others celebrating the Royal weddings are located at Thirsk, Christchurch and Sittingbourne. There is a clock tower at Penrith financed by residents, recording the death of the son of Mr. Philip Musgrave the member of a private family.

Clock makers advertised their products and prices. Some of the names are familiar to us today, such as Gillett and Bland of Croydon and John Smith of Derby. These makers were particularly busy around the time of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee (5th February 1887).

The detail that Mike Bundock gave us of the many clock towers to which he referred was exceptional and the audience showed their appreciation with gusto as Duncan thanked Mike and presented him with …… guess what?

-Michael McDonnell.

2022 September Meeting

8th September 2022



James Marten welcomed Viscount Midleton for the Beresford Hutchinson lecture of 2022. Alan kindly agreed to talk to us on two watches in his possession. With his Conan Doyle hat on, he recreates the early history of these watches using the evidence provided by the watches themselves.

The first pocket watch, 42mm diameter, has initials GF engraved on the back with a crown above which suggests royal provenance. Made by Recordon, Breguet’s London agent, who took out Patent 1249 for a pedometer wind mechanism. The dial, of this watch, retained with one screw from the front, similar to the continental practice by Breguet, and the seconds dial was set between 4 and 5 o’clock. This watch has a mono-metallic balance but use a compensation curb rather than bi-metallic balances which, while not exactly unusual, is perhaps less usual in English watches. It has a dumb repeating mechanism with a continental type of plunger through the pendant. Alan put forward the evidence to suggest that the Prince Regent had a hand in the ownership of the watch and may have gifted it to Beau Brummel or Lord Paget.

The second watch dated similarly 1808 also by Recordon London was large, 60mm. Breguet style hands, with no second’s dial or front dial retaining screw, wound through the dial, as with continental watches and a gold ring surrounding the winding hole to protect the enamel dial. Alan noted it to have a loud repeat mechanism. On the back there is the Coat of Arms of the Paget family and in Alans opinion the watch almost certainly belonged to the head of this family, the 2nd Earl of Uxbridge. who lost a leg at the Battle of Waterloo and was subsequently created Marquess of Anglesey. This watch had a ruby cylinder escapement, a mono-metallic balance but also used a bimetallic compensation curb, and a press button to release the spring-loaded cap being a continental practice.

There is a Breguet which was for the Prince of Wales with Prince Wales feathers the initials GP (George Principal), engraved beneath. Breguet kept meticulous records unfortunately Recordon business records have not survived but we assume they as detailed as Breguet’s or the Vulliamy’s held at the BHI Library in Upton Hall.

Alan showed references to a Vulliamy watch, the seconds dial at 3 o’clock, which was NOT listed in the workbook records and a watch by Rentzsch, the dial was damaged and held in by two screws through the dial face and had unusual hands pointing at Arabic numerals. The Minute dial was located at top centre. The larger central hand indicating the hour. The back cover of this watch is engraved belonged to Queen Charlotte the gift of the four princesses to Herbert Taylor January 1819 so it is not impossible that first watch was gifted by the Prince Regent.

During his lecture Viscount Midleton gave us much historical detail including that of George III, who supported Harrison in his fight with the board of Longitude. His eldest son the Prince of Wales, known as ‘Prinny’ was lazy dissolute and extravagant where his father was (when sane) inquisitive and industrious. The Viscount then spoke of the 1st Earl of Uxbridge who enjoyed a worthy rather than distinguished career as Lord Lieutenant of Anglesey and Staffordshire, Constable of Caernarfon Castle, Ranger of the forest of Snowden. South London branch members were treated to details of other luminaries such as the Duke of Wellington, the 2nd Earl of Uxbridge and the escapee Napoleon Bonaparte.
In conclusion Duncan thanked Viscount Midleton for a highly informative and detailed lecture covering the period. The members and guests showed their appreciation as Duncan presented him with a vintage bottle of clock oil.

For those of you not able to attend log in details will be sent in a separate email. Please log in from 19:40 .

The meeting will be held at The White Hart Barn in Godstone.

THE WHITE HART BARN (Godstone Village Hall)



7.30pm for 8.00pm Start

2022 August Meeting

11th August 2022

“How the watch was worn”.

Chris McKay FBHI

The Watch and how it was worn is a photographic study making use of postcards, cabinet cards, etc., pictorially illustrating how the watch evolved around the people wearing them. 1860-1930″.

Aged 11 Chris started to take alarm clocks apart and by age 13 had learnt to put them back together again! At the age of 19 he worked on his first Turret Clock and has been fascinated by horology ever since.

He graduated as an electronic engineer from Sussex University and achieved Chartered Engineer status when he was 29. After a career in electronics for 12 years he taught Design and Technology in secondary school and then turned to clock work. Chris is a professional member of the British Horological Institute and runs technical courses on turret clocks for the BHI, and new apprentices.

A regular contributor to the HJ Chris has provided both articles and authoritative book reviews. He is a prolific author and contributor to the horological world.

Chris is always a speaker not to be missed.

-Duncan Greig

Doors open at 19:30, Starting 20.00 hours.

For those of you not able to attend log in details will be sent in a separate email. Please log in from 19:40 .

The meeting will be held at The White Hart Barn in Godstone.

THE WHITE HART BARN (Godstone Village Hall)



7.30pm for 8.00pm Start

2022 July Meeting

14th July 2022

Chris Papworth MBHI.

A history of clockmaking in Essex

Chris Papworth has been working in the horological industry for over 50 years. Along with his wife, he runs his own business, Kelvedon clocks in the High Street, Kelvedon, Essex. He is a director and past chairman the British Watch and Clockmakers Guild. Chris has experience and a wide variety of contacts throughout the trade. Working with clocks as long as he, has brought him into contact with many horological items from his native county. This has enabled him to compile a history of clockmaking in Essex. It will be interesting to learn from him which clocks or watches he would choose to collect himself.

-Duncan Greig

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.