The Northern Section meetings offer a variety of formal lectures and club nights at their meeting hall together with staging exhibitions at local museums, demonstrations of horological conservation and visits to horological places of interest.

The Club Nights and Lectures usually alternate each month with a guest lecturer being invited to give a presentation to the meeting, often with visual aids and exhibits. For the club night a theme is chosen, and members are encouraged to bring items for display, and possibly to say a few words about them.

The meetings are friendly, relaxed and give the opportunity to meet new friends with similar interests, exchange views, ideas, and get help with solving your horological problems. As well as this you relax with refreshments whist your discussions take place.

Our meetings are held on the second Friday of each month at 7:30 for 8:00 pm and carry on until everyone leaves, usually between 10:30 and 11:00 pm. The venue is in the church hall behind the old Trinity Chapel off Northenden Road, Sale Moor, where there is ample parking around the hall. This is located on the south side of Manchester within half a mile of Sale Railway station and close to the M60 junctions 6 and 7.

Visitors and new members are always most welcome.

Northern Section

To be held at Trinity Methodist Church, Trinity Road, Sale, Cheshire, M33 3ED at 7.30pm, unless otherwise stated

Friday 12 October

CLUB NIGHT: Coventry clocks and watches


Friday 9 November

LECTURE:  ‘Restoration of a musical clock’ by Jim Arnfield


Friday 14 December

Christmas Social: Horological ephemera


 

Recent Meetings

Meeting reports for previous years: 2017

The conservation of turret clocks   (September 2018)

Keith Scobie-Youngs gave a fascinating talk on the turret clock conservation methods used recently on clocks from St Mary's Church, Beaumaris and Seaton Delaval Hall. He outlined the latest techniques for treating painted metal and experimental work carried out on heavily corroded and rusted wrought iron and brasswork. Crumbling, decaying woodwork can also be rescued enabling original material to be retained.
The message was clear: conservation requires the safeguarding of a clock's historical integrity; actions need to be reversible and details of work done recorded in a conservation report for future reference.

The original brass escape wheel from Seaton Deleval was saved by fitting new teeth onto the original wheel rather than just cutting a new wheel.
 

Unfortunately on some occasions, conservation is not an option.
This 7 foot diameter slate dial which is about 170 years old, fell from the tower at Beaumaris. A plan, replicating the old design, was drawn using CAD and from that a new dial has been cut in North Wales slate.

Visit to Cuckooland, Tabley, Cheshire  (August 2018)

Over seven hundred cuckoo clocks under one roof! Owners Roman and Maz Piekarski ensured many of the cuckoo clocks in their vast collection had been wound for us so that while telling us about the most interesting ones, their different sounds and calls could be demonstrated. Each clock has its own story to tell, some play tunes, have birds other than cuckoos, have more than one bird or fascinating automata. In addition to the wonderful clocks, there is also a German keyless concert organ which was played for us and a superb collection of vintage motorcycles with sidecars.

 
Members of the Northern Section and guests during our visit to Cuckooland.
Centre seated with tie: Roman Piekarski and to his left, Maz Piekarski.


 
 

Combination clocks/watches – any horological items which do more than tell the time  (August 2018)

The weird and the wonderful; the useful and the novel - all were on display for our August meeting. The useful items included: teasmades, a Bakelite bedside lamp-clock, a tic-tac bookie's lockable money bag, a clock-barometer, a ships' clock striking ships' bells and a 30 hour longcase movement which played bell peals. Two luxury watches had multiple dials and a Georgian table clock had an alarm and night silencing. Clocks with sheep, mermaids and stamps provided novelty and for entertainment, a children's Sylvester and Tweetie-Pie wall clock with automatons, a strike and speech! There was something for everyone.

   

Bookie's tic-tac lockable money bag. Bets could be placed before a race and stored with the money inside the bag. Once it was time for the race, the bag would be locked and the clock would stop at that moment as a precaution against bets being fraudulently placed after the race was run.

Sylvester and Tweetie-Pie children's clock. On each hour the bird emerges to hammer Sylvester on his head and afterwards, twin front doors open to reveal the bird who calls out a selection of 'greetings'.

Anonymous Goliath calendar pocket watch
with dials for day of the week, month, lunar
indication and date in its leather display/travel case.

Smuggling Holological Supplies from Switzerland in WWll   (July 2018)

Tales of derring-do entertained us in Ian Greaves' talk on the smuggling of horological items from Switzerland to the UK during the hostilities of WWll. Britain required parts and tools we could no longer manufacture to the necessary standards and quantities. Ian outlined how Switzerland's neutrality combined with its continued need for trade with both hostile and allied nations led to smuggling. Vast quantities of vitally important horological items made in Switzerland came to Britain to enable our rearmament thanks to the brave and imaginative routes devised by the Ministry of Economic Warfare.

 

Marine timekeepers and instruments (June 2018)

Members were treated to a display of four box chronometers, two chronometer watches, six pocket chronometer watches, three wristwatches, several marine instruments, books and photographs. Each item was described by its owner followed by an opportunity for discussion.

   
Chronometer watch by Litherland & Davies
dating to 1826


 
Russian Cold War chronometer
Late series Walker taff rail log.
Similar examples are still in use
for GPS backup


 
 Small chronometer with German quartz
movement used in MOD
Hydrographic Department
 
Letterhead of John Edward Massey dated 1897,
showing the medals and awards he had won for his logs and sounding machines


 

Trip to the Isle of Man (May 2018)

Members of the Northern Section recently enjoyed a visit to a private collection in the Isle of Man.

The collection is housed in a private estate on the island. We began in the Orangery where there were magnificent plants and interesting sundials.

The house is the result of a lifetime's work in engineering, invention and design. Collections of fossils, semi precious stones, paintings and photographs as well as clocks and watches are housed there. Our group toured the collections and was guided around the horological items by Dr JC Taylor. We spent most of the day there and as a thank you, presented a cheque for the Teapot Trust, a charity close to the owner's heart.

   
As a thank you, Northern Section Chairman
Gary Burns presented a cheque to Dr JC Taylor
for the Teapot Trust charity


 
Northern Section members discussing
a sundial in the Orangery
The dial of the sixteenth century turret clock
at Castle Rushen and a later,
polyhedral sundial nearby interested members


 
Close up of the two dials

Pendulum clocks of north west Finland   (May 2018)

Robin Hill began his talk on pendulum clocks of north west Finland by sketching an image of a sparsely populated country with vast areas of lakeland and forest. Swedish influence is strong, especially in coastal areas where cultures have blended. Finnish clock cases were mostly painted pine decorated with stylised pumpkin flowers in the familiar Swedish Mora curvaceous longcase style. Early examples have all-wooden movements.

Robin introduced the Könni family - four generations of clockmakers who produced a wide variety of clocks, including simple short duration and eight day longcases, some with automata, and turret clocks for prestigious buildings such as Helsinki's Imperial Senate House and Cathedral. He concluded by briefly describing the clocks on display, two of which are pictured below.

Short duration longcase dial and movement with alarm. Wooden movement with just the escape wheel made of brass. The re-painted dial has beaten pewter spandrels, but one is a cast replacement. The painted case is dated 1737. Regulator wall clock signed by Matti Ek of Saloinen, dated 1829. Eight day movement, dead beat escapement, epicyclic maintaining power to the going train. Moon phase indicated by the spherical gesso ball above the dial. Ting tang rack strike and passing strike on the half hour.


Pumpkin flower decoration on a Mora type longcase clock. (National Museum of Finland, Helsinki). Typical longcase clocks made by the Könni family. (National Museum of Finland, Helsinki).

(All photos courtesy of Robin Hill.)

Bring and Discuss - Letter T   (April 2018)

A treasure-trove of items related to Letter T was brought in by members. Two Tompion watches, one made pre 1700 was complete and running well. The other was photographed that morning when dismantled for the first time in 100+ years. This revealed previously unseen numbering, Tompion's scratched signature (by his own hand?) and possible date (1683). There were watches by 'makers' whose names began with 'T', a Thwaites and Reed three train, triple fusee 'tulip' table clock, and a double dial timepiece made for the GPO.  A tortoiseshell watch signed Thomas Lees of Bury in a Turkish outer case, a watch by William Travers of London and a Tipsy watch key were also shown. A compact turret timepiece made for a Liverpool school by Thomas Condliff, and a large collection of travelling clocks including a Junghans Joker were also displayed. One member used a meter to demonstrate the value of modern luminising compounds and tritium, compared to the beta radiation still emitting from a WW1 standard issue wristwatch dial and one of the travelling clocks. We finished with a mystery item - a large pair of turns, but for what task? (see below)


Turret timepiece by Thomas Condliff,
Liverpool dating to second half
of the nineteenth century

Complete watch movement by
Thomas Tompion
in later 24ct gold case

 
 

Tortoise shell triple-cased watch
by Thomas Lees,Bury
with its Turkish outer case
Pair of turns for what purpose?
(Unfortunately not to scale.)

The evolution of the waterproof watch, 1851-1935.    (March 2018)

When David Boettcher inherited two Rolex wristwatches (dated 1917/18) from his grandparents, an interest in Rolex was kindled. He learned that the Oyster was claimed to be the world's first truly waterproof watch when it was introduced by Rolex in 1926; this focused David's research into the development of the waterproof watch. Like most products, the Oyster was the result of a series of improvements throughout the second half of the nineteenth and the first quarter of the twentieth century. Searches revealed a waterproof pocket watch from as far back as 1851, when one was exhibited suspended in a bowl of fish at the Great Exhibition. David described the sequence of developments which were mainly driven by the requirements of explorers and the military, which led to the production of the Oyster.

Rolex Oyster. (Image by kind permission of and © OldeTimers)
The case has a Glasgow Assay Office import hallmark for 1927-1928

Work in Progress  (February 2018)

Members brought in their current projects. These included a slide-show of research into the use of squirrel designs on watches made during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and photos of a walnut marquetry longcase made by one of our members to house a clock by William Grimes of c. 1690. One member showed components he has made for a case to house a minute repeating fob watch movement to convert it into a wristwatch. Its small size (30mm diameter) and 3 o'clock position winding crown make it ideal to be worn on the wrist. We were updated on progress on the making of six Harrison H3 Sea Clock replicas - pendulum design, manufacture and testing are the current project. Restoration of a pretty thirty hour alarm wall clock by William Gill of Maidstone was another subject for discussion as was a proof copy of a new book by Keith Bates: Early Clock and Watchmakers of the Blacksmiths Company, which will be published later this year.

        
Detail of a marquetry door panel of the new case
for an orphan clock movement
by William Grimes c. 1690
Newly constructed replica of the pendulum
of John Harrison's Sea Clock, H3
 

AGM (January 2018)

The forty-ninth AGM of the Northern Section was followed by two horologically themed DVDs. One had old movie footage from the 1920s of winding the three train clock at St Michael and All Angels' Church, Croston, Lancashire. The three train clock was made by WH Bailey & Co., in 1882 and installed at Croston the following year. The second DVD came from the National Museum Speelklok, Utrecht and featured the amazing 'Napoleon Clock' by Louis Moinet. This musical clock with automata was made in 1806 and presented to Napoleon by the people of Lyon. 

The clock at St Michael and All Angels' Church, Croston, Lancashire
made by WH Bailey & Co, Albion Works, Salford, Manchester in 1882.