Northern Section

To be held at Trinity Methodist Church, Trinity Road, Sale, Cheshire, M33 3ED at 7.30pm for 8.00pm, unless otherwise stated

Friday 8 September 2023

LECTURE: ‘Winter’s clock, Stockport’ by Darlah and Steve Thomas

Friday 13 October 2023

CLUB NIGHT: Railway timekeeping

Friday 10 November 2023

CLUB NIGHT: Bring & Discuss

Friday 8 December 2023

Christmas Social, with theme of Horological Ephemera

Full Programme for 2023 (PDF download, updated 20 September)

Recent Meetings

Meeting reports for previous years: 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017

James Ferguson and his connection to the tidal clocks of Liverpool (June 2023)

Ferguson is known in horological circles for his complicated astronomical clocks with twenty-four hour dials and showing tidal information. He had been fascinated by horology and astronomy from a very early age but pursued a career in portraiture for many years before returning to his earlier interests in later life. He began lecturing on astronomy and the tides in London, wrote books and travelled England giving series’ of lectures on these subjects. Whilst in Liverpool, he designed his first tidal clock. It is recorded that a clock to this design was made but is now lost. Instead, images were shown of another clock made to the same design by Samuel Northcote of Plymouth. As Liverpool had already become a very busy port, but which had a large tidal range, knowledge of the tides was essential to anyone there with maritime interests. After Ferguson’s visits, many clocks with local tidal information were made in Liverpool, some following Ferguson’s idea of a rise-and-fall tidal plate, or developments from it including the tidal disc, see below. Images of clocks by makers such as Finney, Tarleton, Richards, Kaye, Aspinwall, Birtles and Wood were illustrated and their tidal features explained.

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The seven-inch tidal disc rotates beneath the dial of a clock by Joseph Finney of Liverpool. This clockmaker is known for his ingenuity and for the high-quality clocks he made. High water is indicated by one of the galleons which appears through a special aperture in the dial. As the tide ebbs and the disc rotates a rock formation appears in the aperture indicating low water. The speakers believe the three rock formations represent identifiable hazards (with a little artistic licence) on the approach into the Mersey estuary.
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The tidal aperture on the Joseph Finney clock showing a galleon to indicate high water.

Lantern Clocks (April 2023)

A representative display of these clocks was brought to the April meeting comprising examples made during the seventeenth century from the first, second and third periods, followed by clocks from the eighteenth, nineteenth (not illustrated here) and twentieth centuries. The enduring appeal of this type of clock can be seen below.

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First period lantern clock (1580-1640) made by Thomas Blackwell on Tower Hill, Londini. The clock was converted to anchor escapement many years ago and has a replacement hand. It was in the same family for the last 130 years until acquired by the present owner.
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Second period lantern clock (1640-1660) made by Thomas Loomes at the Sign of the Mermaid, Lothbury, London. This clock was converted to anchor many years ago and is believed to have been made c1649. Thomas Loomes died in 1665; he was possibly a victim of the plague.
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Third period lantern clock (1660-1700) made by John Ebsworth of Cross Keys, Lothbury, London. It has a short pendulum suspended within the movement, the side doors having slots to allow for its swing.
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Anonymous French lantern clock thought to have been made c.1750.
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This anonymous French lantern clock still has its cockerel. The French kings had adopted the cockerel as a symbol of courage and bravery; however, many were destroyed in Napoleon’s time as he considered the eagle a more fitting symbol for a great empire. This clock therefore was either made before the French Revolution and escaped destruction or was made during the nineteenth century when the cockerel regained its position as sign of an enduring French Empire.

An example of a late nineteenth century lantern clock was shown, made by the Goldsmiths Company, 112 Regent Street, London. The twin fusee clock strikes the hours and ting tangs the quarters. It can be dated to the 1890s as it was given as a wedding gift in 1898. (No image)

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The two twentieth century examples were: 1. Clock made by Dent possibly in the 1950s with crown wheel and short pendulum. When purchased by its current owner, it was still in its original box.
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2. Clock signed Thomas Moore, Ipswich. This clock was from a batch commissioned by an English clock dealer in the second half of the twentieth century. It is modelled on an eighteenth century example and has an anchor escapement.

10-minute talks (March 2023)

Talk 1.

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Waltham Pocket Watch – Military Issue – Made Circa 1942 Movement serial # 31692292, Inside Case # 992246 Outside Case # 28022 (with military arrow)
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A Waltham, British army issue pocket watch dating to 1942 was accompanied by a membership certificate of the Northern Association of Practical Watch and Clockmakers. A descendant of the original owner is seeking information on this Association (which merged with the BHI in Manchester) and on a clock and repair business in Lever Street, Manchester run by an ancestor, Thomas Hammond, between 1945 and 1953.

Talk 2.

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A summary of the book, Kendall’s Longitude by John Bendall which tells the amazing story of Larcum Kendall’s second chronometer watch which was a simplified version of Harrison’s H4. The watch survived a mission north of the Arctic Circle, two periods of conflict during the American War of Independence, surveying in uncharted waters, being lost to the Navy for 50 years following the mutiny on the Bounty, piracy, and its eventual return to British hands and repatriation to Britain following action in China in the first Opium War.

Talk 3.

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An update on the design, manufacture and testing of the lifting apparatus for the Prescot time ball. The first gearbox assembly (see image above) failed during the testing period, and it was found that a model with the incorrect output had been supplied. A replacement is now under test.

Talk 4.

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A member showed the movement of a rare, early Aaron Crane torsion clock which was lacking several important parts. The owner has a later version of the clock which is working which will provide a reference during its restoration. The clock’s fascinating ‘walking’ escapement and strike were also described.

Talk 5.

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The story of an eBay bargain buy of twenty modern wristwatches, all unused and in their original boxes. These feature the Scottish saltire on their dials.

Talk 6.

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The former stable buildings at Worden Park, Leyland have been restored recently. The final speaker told how he had restored the turret clock there in 1980 and that he has wound and maintained it ever since. He has had to ‘nurse’ the clock through the recent work which has involved cleaning the mechanism twice during the last few months!

Wartime Horology (February 2023)

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Top row : left to right

Deck watch. WWll period marked with broad arrow. Swiss made.

Deck watch. WWl period marked with broad arrow. Dial signed John Lilley & Son, London.

Deck watch. WWll period by Waltham (USA).

Deck watch. WWll period with broad arrow. Dial signed Elgin (USA).

Second row : left to right

Deck watch. World War ll period with broad arrow. Signed by Hamilton (USA).

Deck watch : World War ll period with broad arrow. Signed Zenith. (Swiss made).

Wristwatch (on right): World War l period. This watch was described fully in AH December 2018 page 569. It belonged to a member of the Lowlands Field Ambulance of the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Bottom row : left to right - Aircraft watches.

Double chronometer with time of trip dial (for calculating fuel usage) and time of day dial. Used by RAF during WWll. The knob on the left was to set and wind, right knob = stop watch.

German chronometer. WWll period with stop watch for timing operations and turns up to 20 minutes.

Russian time of day clock dating to 1936.

British time of day clock with time of trip set by the red hands.


Not illustrated – we were also shown:

Hamilton Railway Special watch dating to c1940.

Hamilton Navigation master watch US Navy. Date c1941.

Hamilton 22 (Chronometer) deck watch. Date c1942.

Mercer Model C two day marine chronometer. Dating to 1944.

Elgin Model 685 Instrument Watch. Date 1950s/60s.

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Hamilton chronometer supplied unboxed in an aluminium tin. This was cheaper than boxing them in the USA and transporting them fully finished. This model was mass produced leading to a surplus after hostilities ended. It was bought, still unboxed by the current owner. Date WWll period and later.
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A marine chronometer made by Wempe Chronometer Works around WWII, with lever escapement, mounted in a painted aluminium bowl with rubber mounting to reduce the transfer of shock loads and with the gimble mounts on the outer ring of the mounting. The history of these instruments was discussed.

Some interesting websites with information on these topics were suggested:

A closer look at British Military ATP Watches

Northern Section AGM (January 2023)

The business of the AGM filled the evening meeting.