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.

2022 May Meeting

12th May 2022

J E Allnutt & Son Ltd., Midhurst. Expanding the business and training apprentices

Geoff Allnutt MBHI. And two of his apprentices

The last 10 or more years we have enjoyed the company of many young horologists training at West Dean College. Unfortunately, this May, Malcolm Archer has suffered the Covid 19 virus and as a result has had to cancel our talk from the students. You are however welcome to see their presentations at the college on Saturday, 14 May.

I’m extremely grateful to Geoff Allnutt, for stepping in at the last minute, accompanied by two of his apprentices Jacob Russell, FBHI. And Patrick Woodward, MBHI.

Geoff, a watchmaker, started his career working alongside his father, John, when he was 14. At 16 he left Midhurst and studied horology in London for three years at Hackney Technical College passing the final grade of the British Horological Institute exams with merit in 1985. He then embarked on the famous WOSTEP (Watchmakers of Switzerland Training and Education Program) course in Neuchatel Switzerland studying under master watchmaker Antoine Simonin. Upon his return to the UK, he rejoined the family business and for the past thirty years he has successfully developed the vintage wristwatch restoration and sales side of the company. He is also one of two Programme Advisors for the Postgraduate Diploma Conservation of Clocks and Related Objects at West Dean College in West Sussex. He has already trained two apprentices to FBHI status and has also mentored a number of clock and watchmakers.

Jacob Russell. Watchmaker was the recipient of the Beresford Hutchinson prize in 2016. Geoff is delighted that Jacob Russell, his apprentice for the last 5 years has passed his British Horological Exams with Merit together with the highest mark for his portfolio; thus, becoming the youngest Fellow of the British Horological Institute in Britain.

Patrick Woodward. Watchmaker initially approached Geoff in November 2017, after reading an article about Jacob’s success in the local press. Geoff saw great potential in Patrick, and he offered him a full-time apprenticeship in watchmaking in April 2018.

Patrick has recently completed his apprenticeship of 4 years and qualified to become a Member of the British Horological Institute. He has been doing some most intricate work making a jewelled locking roller for a duplex and is also studying for FBHI Status.

Duncan Greig

The meeting was held at The White Hart Barn in Godstone and made accessible via Zoom to those unable to attend.

2022 April Meeting

14th April 2022

Clockmaking in Guernsey, Surviving the Distance Learning Course

Ian Lihou

When Ron Rose organised courses for the South London Branch members at BHI Upton Hall, not only did we get to meet some of the best Tutors but other horologists, many of them starting out in their careers.  Meeting Ian at Paul Schroders course on Platform escapements was wonderful. A young man dedicated to traveling from Guernsey to Upton Hall in the pursuit of his career humbled me.

Ian was to be the recipient of the Beresford Hutchinson prize that year awarded from the South London Branch.

Very little was exchanged but friendship and advise until a mutual customer took delivery of his latest treasure and the opportunity to visit Ian’s workroom while waiting for the ferry in Guernsey took place.

Here was a great workroom of a young an enthusiastic recently qualified MBHI working as a full time Clockmaker in the Channel Islands. Most of his study had been achieved using the Distance Learning course and Ian was embarking on making his first clock. He has now completed his second commission, a 4-leg gravity escapment regulator.

The South London Branch welcomes Ian, one of our newest members to have joined during the last two years as he briefly touches on the history of the island, its significant clockmaker, and some of the work that has cross his bench over the last nine years, Warts, and all. The reality of working in isolation and as we all experience in horology, the knowledge that we are still learning, seeing something new.

Duncan Greig

The meeting was held at The White Hart Barn in Godstone and made accessible via Zoom to those unable to attend.

2022 March Meeting

10th March 2022

Annual General Meeting

Following the AGM Barnaby Smith will give a presentation on Godstone Clock & Watchmakers

Barnaby is the Treasurer of the South London Branch and also a member of the Kent branch of the B.H. I. He is a liveryman of the clockmaker’s company, a life member of the A.H.S. and a former recipient of The Percy Dawson Award from the A.H.S. His talk will cover his recent efforts in researching information about clock & watchmakers in Godstone.

The meeting was held at The White Hart Barn in Godstone and made accessible via Zoom to those unable to attend.

2022 February Meeting

10th February 2022

About time: a history of civilisation in 12 clocks.

David Rooney

Many members of the South London Branch will be very happy and pleased to welcome back David Rooney who has contributed many talks and lectures to our branch over the years.

David, here with a new book that has been occupying a lot of his time, is now a freelance researcher and writer. He is a council member for the Antiquarian Horological Society. Born and brought up in South Shields he has had a lifetime’s involvement in horology. His parents started their own horological business in 1982 converting parts of the family home into workshop and office when David was just a small boy. His mother, a researcher, did the accounts and managed the business and David can remember being taken to many properties where his father cared for their horological exhibits. Many of those people that his mother and father met still fondly remember the expertise that his parents lavished on their clocks.

So, it is no wonder that David would follow a career path inspired by their own. After working at the Science Museum as a technology curator, David was to become Curator of Timekeeping at the Royal Greenwich Observatory which is where many of us enjoyed hearing his story of the lady who sold time, Ruth Belville. David then left to work again at the Science Museum setting up the mathematical gallery and publishing his second book whilst being Curator of Time, Navigation and Transport. He has now turned freelance and collated a lot of the information that he has already researched along with further new stories taking the often-difficult task of putting pen to paper.

Crawford Market Clock Tower, Mumbai, which will feature in David’s talk

His new book “About time: a history of civilisation in 12 clocks”, a very catchy title, is published by Penguin books. This book tackles the history of the world, the history of us, how with time we have been controlled and politicised. How empires have been built. This is not a technical book on horology but how clocks and time has been used for centuries as a source of control, power, morality, and belief.

The meeting was held at The White Hart Barn in Godstone and made accessible via Zoom to those unable to attend.

2022 January Meeting

13th January 2022

Oldetimers vintage wrist watches

Crispin Maciejewski

Our next meeting will be our very own Crispin Maciejewski. He has sold watches worldwide to both national and private collections and even supplied the film industry.

 I hope you will welcome him on our new meeting date the second Thursday of the month, Thursday the 13th of January, weather and current Covid restrictions permitting.

Crispin’s interest in watches began whilst studying jewellery and silversmithing. He will share his passion for pre-1950s wristwatches his fascination for their intricate engineering and design and tell us more on how he started his horological career with a four-year apprenticeship in horology. This led to the launch of Oldetimers. A company he set up with the desire to keep wonderful timepieces alive and ticking into the future.

His talk will explore the workmanship that goes into these watches, from the mechanical movement to the fine detailing of the cases, I hope his infectious enthusiasm will help to keep these wonderful pieces ticking well into the future.

The meeting was held at The White Hart Barn in Godstone and made accessible via Zoom to those unable to attend.

2021 December Meeting

2nd December 2021

The George Daniels Memorial Lecture

“The Development of the Mechanical Watch”

Dr Roger Smith OBE, FBHI.

In many respects Dr Roger Smith requires no introduction, producing his first and second watches in the 1990s and having worked with the late George Daniels, Roger set up his own workshops on the Isle of Man 20 years ago, Roger W Smith Ltd. In 2018 Roger was awarded the order of the British Empire, (OBE) and an honorary doctorate from the Birmingham City University. Roger’s image was immortalised last year by the Isle of Man Post Office when they released a commemorative book of six stamps featuring three master watchmakers. I remember on his visit to the branch, September 2014 “Against All Odds” amongst other things Roger spoke of British watchmaking’s survival with its exclusive design and execution of workmanship. Currently his business on the Isle of Man produces 15 watches per year and recently, one of Rogers watches, a Series 2, sold at auction, for a record price of £536,000.

Now on his Fifth series of design, tonight’s lecture ‘’The Development of the Mechanical Watch’’, is an in-depth look, into his development of George’s co-axial escapement and the benefits that a practical escapement can bring to timekeeping but also to the improved mechanical efficiency of the mechanism that it sits within.

Duncan Greig

The meeting was held at The White Hart Barn in Godstone and made accessible via Zoom to those unable to attend.

24th October 2021

‘Memories of Clerkenwell’

A Walking Tour

On the morning of Sunday 24th October over twenty South London Branch members gathered in Clerkenwell for a remarkable walking tour, led by Ron Rose and Rob Wren, which brought to life their recent lecture to the branch.

Heading south on St John Street, and close to the main junction with Clerkenwell Road, they viewed the former premises of Strong & Woodhatch the gilders, Thwaites Brothers (dial painters – where business transacted through a hatch was almost entirely conducted on the stairs), A. Lee (watch and clock repair, and the possible location of a tall model Eureka that several remember in a long-standing window display), Gleave & Co (still in business, and therefore a remarkable survivor), and of course probably the best-known landmark, the former Renata House on the north-east corner of the crossroads – home to Shoot & Son Ltd, where many sourced their materials over time.  Shoot’s was not just a shop (where you were served first if you were a familiar face) but also a social club. Regular punters lingered long, catching up on personal matters.

Looking at the south side of Clerkenwell road, across from Shoots, Ron and Rob entertained with tales of Mr Ball of the Criterion Stores who resolutely refused to bow to decimalisation, maintaining pricing in the old money, and converting only at the last moment.

Travelling east on Clerkenwell Road the group stood opposite the former premises of Robert Pringle – more like a department store of horology and tools, by contrast with all the small premises.

Back west and south of the crossroads on St John St they viewed No 88, now a restaurant, but famous as Gedge & Co, supplier of lacquers and acids by quart, gallon or other large measure – never the small quantity required. As Ron recalled, there was little need for intoxicants or stimulants when a visit to heady-scented Gedge’s might set one up for the week.

Moving west to St John Square was the site of Berendt Brothers, material dealers – who clearly moved over time, remembered by different people in different locations. Here the group offered additional memories of the building to the south-east corner of the crossing with Clerkenwell Road including the construction of the Tompion 222 replica.

Into Briset Street and to the building owned by Dan Parkes, home also to Sinclair Glass, and A & H Rowley Parkes. Here Dan Parkes, up on the first floor, handled many of the most important Golden Age clocks, and there was much comment on the quantity of parts in so many clocks that could list Briset Street in their DNA.

With a brief detour down Britton Street to see the location of W. Rayment, and then Sinclair Glass before its move to Briset Street, the group entered the northern part of St John Square, known universally to the locals as Smith Square, since the three sides of the square were dominated by the buildings of J. Smith & Sons, major non-ferrous metals suppliers, but also makers of a wide variety of clocks.

From there to Clerkenwell Green the group stopped to admire the external dial and early hands at St James’s Clerkenwell, driven now by a Moore clock that replaced the original Aynsworth Thwaites clock.

The excursion ended outside 15 Bowling Green Lane, former premises of Thwaites and Read, where Ron arrived as a young clockmaker in 1962. He pointed out the windows behind which he and Mr Fox (his supervisor) worked on an upper floor, making the reproduction clocks. We heard about the displacement of people around the building and the turret clock department, with perhaps thirty staff, to the rear at the back of the ground floor. Ron waxed lyrical about his time throughout the mid-1960s at Thwaites, and about the double-sided drum clock that used to project from the front of the building, and which has now been tracked down, and which Ron hopes to reinstall in the near future at a new location.

[An edited report by James Nye FSA]

2021 October Meeting

7th October 2021

The Loseby Family of Clockmakers and their Turret Clocks”.

Andy Burdon

Following on from the lecture given to us in February 2019, Andy has been researching one of his favourite makers and their family.

Loseby is a name normally associated with compensated balances on marine chronometers, but both the father and three brothers were also involved with the manufacture of high-quality turret clocks. His talk will concentrate on the remaining existent clocks by the family and some background to their work. 

Biographical information from Peter Stewards introduction 2019:

Andy Burdon worked for thirty years in corporate IT in London for a multi-national Engineering Group and subsequently went on to help set up a new company in the IT hardware disposal business.

Andy has had a lifelong enthusiasm for turret clocks and curates his own turret clock collection and workshop. Andy is a Council Member of the Clocks Conservation Committee at the Church Buildings Council and the Chief Executive Officer of his own technology company having held a number of previous CIO board positions in the technology and communications industry. He is also the database manager for the AHS turret clock group recording every turret clock made in the UK. Since taking over the database in 2016 he has worked to turn it into an internet-based database and take it from 650 records to just over 4500. He has worked with the Church of England to link the turret clock database with the Church Heritage Record database which contains the information about all 17,600 Church of England churches in the UK.

In November 2018 Andy joined the Smith of Derby board as a Non-Executive Director and has been working with Smith of Derby Limited for many months, helping the company improve performance in the traditional turret clock marketplace and working with the engineers in the field to improve the work they perform.

The meeting was held at The White Hart Barn in Godstone and made accessible via Zoom to those unable to attend.