2023 October Meeting

5th October 2023

Women in Horology

Su Fullwood and Geoff Allnutt FBHI

I am sure many of you have seen, or have had, examples of clocks and watches signed and made by Women. My own interest started by wanting to know more about Mary Anne Viet.

But the “Highlighting Mary” project began when Geoff asked Su to try and find how many women were listed as clockmakers or watchmakers in Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World, G. H. Baille and B. Loomes, and in various text that were already published. Taking note of how many women were working alongside horologists, or women who could not legally run businesses in their own names, but who took over the running of the business when widowed or un-married. This was the tip of the Iceberg, and they discovered two women working in West Street Midhurst where Geoff has his business. This spurred Su and Geoff on to, “A shop in time “, an exhibit at the Chichester Museum. Today they continue to compile a very extensive spread sheet of information. Inspiration also came from Dr Mike Flannery with his regular “My Bench View” in the horological Journal issue no 141 Early Female Clockmakers. 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)

GODSTONE

SURREY RH9 8DU

7.30pm for 8.00pm Start

2023 September Meeting

7th September 2023

Keith Scobie-Youngs FBHI ACR

“The Great Clock of Westminster” – Big Ben.

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)

GODSTONE

SURREY RH9 8DU

7.30pm for 8.00pm Start

2023 August Meeting

3rd August 2023

Practical Demonstrations by SLBBHI Members

The advantages of coupling the latest technology with the skills exercised by horologists were on show during the branch’s “Show and Tell” meeting and social evening.

Members were invited to take along projects on which they were working, as well as non-horological items of interest – and the ways in which technology could be utilised became a clear theme.

CNC – computer numerical control – was on display in two major exhibits.

One was a home-produced bench-top gearwheel cutting machine from workshop tutor and clock and watch restoration specialist Antonio Da Silva, who aided by Alan White.

The other was a four-axis cutter grinder – the AutoNorv – devised and made by branch secretary Norvin Simpson for his firm, All Seasons Tool Hire, and used to sharpen the cutters on stump-griding tools his firm lets out.

Both devices were capable of performing their functions automatically once the relevant parameters were fed into their controlling computer programmes.

Mr Da Silva’s gear-wheel cutter was developed with a creative mixture of parts. The base was the cross-slide from a Chinese-made milling machine, while the two main aluminium vertical posts were machined in Portugal by a friend of his who owns an engineering company.

Antonio Da Silva’s wheel cutter. Picture: Courtesy of Mike Dodd

The workpiece itself is held in an Arceuro Trade ER20 collet holder on a ground shaft, while the vertical shaft was taken from a Myford lathe.

The device, which is powered by hybrid Stepper motors driven by a B-Plus Stepper Motor Driver Board, is controlled by a CNC program written by Australia-based Rex Swensen.

Mr White, who helped design and build the machine, said that in fully automatic operation, once the parameters were fed into the program, the machine would take about half-an-hour to cut a 60-tooth wheel. It was also capable of cutting pinions.

The device cost a total of about £350.00 – some parts were salvaged or cannibalised from other machines – and took about 100 hours to design, assemble and complete, he added.

In comparison, a second-hand wheel-cutting machine might be obtained for about £1,200 or one would have to spend somewhere in the region of £16,000 for a machine from Swiss manufacturer Schaublin.

Branch member Peter Stonebridge admires the AutoNorv  Picture: Courtesy of Trevor Keast

The AutoNorv, which Mr Simpson spent about 20 months devising, designing and making, at a cost of about £1,000, is used to sharpen the eight finger teeth cutters used in each of the nine stump-grinding tools his firm hires out.

The stump-grinders, he said, were used virtually every, and the cutters fitted in them had to be sharpened every time they were hired out.

“I used to do it by hand, which was repetitive and took a little time. But with this machine I can just put a tool in and the machine does the work for me,” he said.

So far, he said, he had used the machine to sharpen the grinding tools more than 6,000 times – and as he took just over two minutes to sharpen each cutter, meant that the machine had saved him some 200 hours of repetitive sharpening work, because all he had to do was insert the tool and switch it on.

The AutoNorv – Inside the box. Picture: Courtesy of Mike Dodd

At busy times the firm got through 200 of the cutting teeth each week.

The design for the machine – a four-axis CNC cutter grinder – and its components were drawn on Freecad.

The machine itself is controlled with G-Code running on Mach3, a popular CNC control software, and connected to the computer via a USB motion controller.

Two sensors in the device test the cutters – there is a micro switch to check for new or old cutters and an optical sensor to measure cutter wear.

The cutters are honed on two three-phase inverter-controlled grinding motors, one of which has a coarse aluminium oxide wheel for grinding the steel backing, while the other has a diamond wheel for grinding the tungsten carbide tip.

Each wheel also has dust extraction, which is switched on and off with solid state relays.

Another application of technology was shown by member Clive Steer, who demonstrated a servo-controlled brushless DC electric motor mounted on a specially made stand to drive a watchmaker’s lathe.

The motor, Mr Steer said, was extremely powerful, despite being extremely small compared to the motors usually used to power such lathes, and capable of maintaining the same rate of RPM even when under a considerable load.

Another major advantage was that it was silent in operation – meaning that operating a watchmaker’s lathe would no longer be accompanied by the whining and rattling noises usually associated with such work.

Also among the interesting and varied items shown by members at the session was the mechanical clock which once graced the outside wall of the offices of manufacturers Thwaites and Reed in Clerkenwell, central London.

Thwaites and Reed, which was founded in 1740, is still a going concern, is now based in Rottingdean, Brighton. The clock in question, however, graced the outside wall on the front of its former base in 15 Bowling Green Lane, Clerkenwell, in the centre of the East End, from about 1930 until the Second World War.

Clerkenwell was a major centre for the English watch and clock-making industry, but suffered a sharp decline in its fortunes when William Pitt the Younger, the then Prime Minister, introduced the Duties on Clocks and Watches Act 1797.

The Act levied a tax of 10 shillings (50p) – about £80.50 now – which was the equivalent of three days’ wages for a skilled tradesman, on gold watches, with silver and other metal watches at being taxed at 2s 6d (12.5p), the equivalent of £20 in modern-day purchasing power.

Watch and clock-makers and dealers had had to buy an annual licence at the cost of 2s 6d if they were in London and 1s (5p) outside the capital.

The tax was in force for only 13 months before it was repealed because of devastating effect it was having on the industry – but by that time the damage was done, with demand for clocks and watches falling through the floor, output dropping by half, and thousands of skilled workers either leaving the industry for other occupations, or emigrating.

The Thwaites and Reed clock, designed in 1930 by Frank Ainscow Buggins, was removed from the Clerkenwell site in 1978 and regarded as lost until it turned up on auction and sales website eBay,  bearing another company’s name, two years ago, since when its restoration has been a major project by branch members.

Plans to mount the restored and refurbished clock on the front wall at Soper Hall, home of the branch’s workshop, are currently in abeyance while the local authority considers the application, which will involve mounting a stout steel framework on the building to support the weight of the device.

The clock will also be powered by an electric motor rather than operating purely mechanically, as it did when first built.

-Mike Dodd

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)

GODSTONE

SURREY RH9 8DU

7.30pm for 8.00pm Start

2023 July Meeting

6th July 2023

Robert Wren FBHI

Roland Jarvis.

His clocks and the conservation of his month Astronomical Regulator with Planetarium.

The Artist and Clockmaker once quoted, “I’m not working I’m playing”.

Roland was born in Hull but spent his early life in France, and by the age of 7 was enthusiastically making models from a gifted Meccano set. By 1951 he had trained at Kings College London, then entered the military as an engineer responsible for the radar workshop. A chance visit to an art exhibition in 1954, took Roland on another path, the world of art. He studied at Chelsea School of Art and was trained by, amongst others, Henry Moore and Ceri Richards. He was awarded a French government grant and not surprisingly the Cubist and Surrealist movements had a great influence on him. He did however say that if it was not for his grounding in engineering, he could not do the art he was famous for. In 1960, a dial clock re-sparked his interest of engineering in clocks, and by 1972, with basic hand tools, he had created his first clock signed, SIVRAJ LONDRA. Basing the design on a simplified Edwardian longcase, the upper part of the clock with an Orrey, of the sun, earth, and the moon. A fire in his London studio in the early seventies, meant Roland moved to Hastings, eventually moving into an old, converted chapel. This gave him the high spaces and light for his artwork which was conducted mostly in the summer months, leaving the winter for horology, in his smaller and warmer workshop, where interestingly he also had his bed. 1974, he now has a lathe and pursued making more complicated clocks. He inspirationally made punches to create the stars, in his planispheres, from rods, cut like pinions. Robert got to know Roland from the visits he made to his shop, from 1985 till 1995. Robert even recounting the “Happy Days” of transporting Roland and one of his clocks, home from an exhibition at the Science Museum in his Ford Fiesta. Robert was well versed in recounting creation after creation as Rolands clocks became more and more complicated and was able to give us an insight as to how he was such a prolific maker. Parts often scavenged from old movements would be utilised in the construction of clocks, and for the making of sculptures, and the animated figures that Roland went on to make for his films. Robert was to say that often Roland would find the glass dome first, then design the clock to go underneath it. Throughout the 1990s the clocks became more and more ambitious with further complications and six month, or year duration. Now he was signing all his clocks, Jarvis Hastings, he was also senior tutor in drawing at Brighton Polytechnic, which became Brighton University. Rolands chief influencers in the design of his clocks were Antide Janvier, James Ferguson, Philipp Matthaus Hahn, Zacharie Raingo.

In 2017, Bonhams, held an auction with the more complicated astronomical clocks, a fine month going one with perpetual calendar has ended up in the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers gallery at the Science Museum. Robert and Johan ten Hoeve were responsible for the conservation of this complex complicated clock before its installation in the gallery. Robert kindly took us through many photographs detailing the complexity of the Astronomical dial and the movement.

We thanked him in the customary way with a bottle of clock oil.

-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)

GODSTONE

SURREY RH9 8DU

7.30pm for 8.00pm Start

2023 June Meeting

1st June 2023

Mike Wilson

“Making early style watch cases, from the 17th to 18th century”.

Mike is a self-taught horologist and hails from the Cheltenham Branch area.

Since retiring in 2000, he has concentrated on Horology, Silversmithing and Enamelling. One of the things he excels in, is making early watch cases. He will bring along various examples of watches in the cases he has made, to illustrate the methods he uses to make his cases, plus he tells me various other things.

Mike was an athlete at school before serving an apprenticeship at the De Havilland Aircraft Company at Hatfield, from 1954 to 1960. Excelling in his exams it was found he had a leaning towards small items, so was diverted from aircraft onto the missile site to make the guidance systems. He was given his own small machine shop. Serving his national service with the RAF, keeping up running which he loved, he was servicing ground to air missiles. Back in civvy street he joined a small company as a development engineer making aircraft instruments and industrial hydraulics.

In his own words “I was very fortunate to have worked on Concord throughout its life, plus most of the nuclear submarines and all the formula one teams”.

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)

GODSTONE

SURREY RH9 8DU

7.30pm for 8.00pm Start

2023 May Meeting

4th May 2023

West Dean Students

The process of repairing an escape wheel on which the tips of the teeth had become so bent that it would not function was described at the May meeting of the South London Branch by J C Li, a student at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation.

Mr Li, who is studying for an MA in Conservation studies (clocks and related objects), and was one He was one of a number of students from the college who, with course head Malcolm Archer, FBHI, attended the branch meeting, said the problem arose on an 1830s English chronometer carriage clock by Arnold and Dent.

The clock was fitted with a spring détente escapement – a mechanism was originally developed for precision timekeeping in marine chronometers.

The problem with the Escapement was that the tips of the teeth were bent to the point where it would not lock properly.

“Initially we thought of making a new wheel for it, but I thought it would be worth trying to straighten the ends of the teeth back. They were already delicate, so there was a risk of breaking tips off, but I thought it would be worth a shot,” Mr Li said

He made a little rig which was filed to be an exact match for the back of the teeth so that they could then be gently tapped back so that they were straightened.

The fit of the tooth-straightening rig, under magnification – picture courtesy West Dean College (Mr Li has written a detailed explanation of the process in a blog on the West Dean website, at: Blog | Straight edge conservation: A chronometer escape wheel | West Dean College of Arts and Conservation )

Another part of his MA course involved a thesis project, for which he investigating the use of epilane, the generic name for a surface agent which prevents oil from spreading by reducing the surface tension of the treated material, in clockwork in the field of conservation.

This involved treating pallets with epilane and having them running for a few months to see if there was any noticeable difference in oil creep or wear.

Mr Li showed branch members a test piece, the top half of which had been treated with epilane while the bottom half had not.

“Epilane is basically just an oleofilic oil-repelling coating which can be used on steel and other metals and is supposed to help keep oil safe, and is commonly used in modern watches on the escapement,” he said.

“The same amount of oil has been deposited on to the two surfaces. On the top part, the surface tension is such that it keeps the oil concentrated in one spot, while at the bottom, the untreated, regular, surface, the oil spreads out, and could potentially cause issues in clockwork.”

An advantage at West Dean was that, as it was a conservation college, students had access to machines and equipment which would not be available in a normal workshop, he said.

This meant he was able, as part of his project, to study whether epilane was reversible – could be cleaned off as if it had never been on a specific surface before. The question of whether it could it be applied and cleaned off in a safe way was a major concern in conservation.

First-year foundation student Dan Batty said he had previously studied at furniture college, adding: “But that was a means to an end, to get to West Dean to do clocks. Clocks was always the end goal.”

At the beginning of his first year at West Dean he had made a small set of tools, all of which would be useful in making the three-wheel train weight-driven clock he had to make as part of the course, and which he had brought with him.

“This is a simple three-wheel train weight-driven 50-hour wall clock. I had been aiming to make mine in the style of a late 17th Century with a single hand,” he said.

Everything on the clock was made and machined by hand, he said, to develop the hand skills he was learning. He had also had to make a fly-cutter to cut the teeth on the escape wheel – “which was an interesting experience.”

Mr Batty went on: “The dial was one of the more interesting parts of making the clock.

“I laid it out by hand – that was eyeball, so there were very few measurements there – it was what looked right.

“There are various things there that you would not necessarily notice which, in terms of maths, might not be correct – but if you measure things so that they were symmetrical it would look wrong.”

He then mounted the brass plate on which the dial was drawn out on to a face plate, and made an engraving tool and a tool-holder, using the pointed end of the engraving tool to produce the thin lines and the thick end of it produce the thick strokes on the numerals.

Engraving the dial of Mr Batty’s clock – picture courtesy West Dean College

He then matted the centre of the dial, which he silvered, he said, adding that he believed the look was appropriate for a clock of the late seventeen-hundreds.

Dan Purvey, who is in the second year of his Foundation degree, produced a French drum movement he was servicing – and asked branch members if they could help him solve the mystery of the unusual strike movement.

The French drum movement – note the steel parts of the strike mechanism. Picture courtesy West Dean College

The movement was a French drum movement with a going train and striking train, a half-hour strike.

“Some of the keen-eyed among you will notice there is something a little unique about this movement, particularly on the front plate,” he said.

The movement had removable barrels, which was not overly common in French drum movements.

It also bore a marking saying the patent was not authorised by the government, which led him to believe that the striking mechanism on the clock was a prototype of some type, but which had not been taken further.

He had been unable to find an official name for the strike movement, which, he said, was “very simple, minimalist” and consisted of only three components.

“We have a counter-lever, a gathering pallet, and a setting spring and lifting piece as well.”

One thing to notice was that the fly went back a bit before a striking. The strike train, he said, had to reverse ever so slightly so as to push the gathering pallet down and unlock it before running.

“I have done a little bit of research and I am struggling to find much information about where this comes from. I cannot find any official patent for it,” Mr Purvey said.

“If anyone does, by any chance, have any information on this, or can point me in the right direction – although this is not some sort of piece for my course, it is an interest I have come across and had the pleasure of observing and working on – I would be pleased to hear it.”

Earlier,. At the start of the evening, student Emily Matthews, who is in the second year of her Foundation course, told course head Malcolm Archer that she had already obtained a BA in fine arts degree at the University of Kent at Canterbury before applying to West Dean.

After studying fine art she had moved on to kinetic art – and applied to West Dean after her mother, who was aware of her interest in clocks and clockwork, drew her attention to the college and the courses it ran.

She had now worked on a long case clock and a carriage clock, and was also working on a musical table clock as well, she said, adding that in the last half of her second year she would be doing a large negotiated project.

The most challenging part of the work, she said, was the fine detailed work, when one had to to be extremely careful, because of the risks that something would break.

But she also really enjoyed working with smaller things, such as carriage clocks.

Mr Archer told the branch that West Dean had expanded considerably since it opened in 1971.

Until only a couple of years ago it had had room for only eight or nine students on clock courses, but because of growing demand had grown so it could now take 12.

There was now a new and larger workshop, which had space for 11 students and, in the centre, a teaching bench with an overhead camera and a microscope camera, so it was easier for a fairly large group of students to gather around the tutor and see what was going on.

“Teaching at West Dean is and has been very practical-based – learning by seeing it done,” Mr Archer said.

“A lot of time is spent in that central workshop watching me or my colleagues doing something around that central area.”

The old workshop had now been concerted to hold a number of machines, including a Myford lathe and a milling machine.

The first two years of the courses was the foundation years – the entry level, he said.

“The first year is about making tools, using equipment, building up hand skills, building up theory, and it culminates in the construction of a simple clock – all students make a clock at the end of the year – a three-wheel train wall clock,” Mr Archer said.

He also gave examples of some of the interesting projects – alongside the normal work at the college – on which students had opportunities to work, including a Regulator clock and a very small carriage clock.

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)

GODSTONE

SURREY RH9 8DU

7.30pm for 8.00pm Start

2023 April Meeting

6th April 2023

For our branch lecture of April 2023, we are delighted to welcome back Anna Rolls, Curator of the Clockmakers’ Museum and Archive. After initially training in metalworking at the University of Brighton, Anna went on to complete a Postgraduate Diploma in The Conservation of Fine Metalwork at West Dean College, followed by an MA in Conservation Studies awarded by the University of Sussex. Anna was subsequently employed as the Objects Conservator for Scientific Instruments at the Royal Museum of Greenwich, where she began the British Horological Institute’s distance learning course diploma in The Repair, Restoration and Conservation of Watches. She took up her current role as Curator of the Clockmakers’ Museum and Archive in 2018, where she looks after the collection formed by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers.

Anna will use her talk to highlight a number of projects which have been carried out over the last year within the Company’s Museum [on display at the Science Museum London] and Archive [held at the Guildhall Library]. Focussing on some of the objects and manuscripts from the collection which have been at the centre of these projects, Anna will delve into the stories that they help to reveal.

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)

GODSTONE

SURREY RH9 8DU

7.30pm for 8.00pm Start

2023 March Meeting

2nd March 2023

Branch A.G.M – Followed by:

“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)

GODSTONE

SURREY RH9 8DU

7.30pm for 8.00pm Start

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)

GODSTONE

SURREY RH9 8DU

7.30pm for 8.00pm Start