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 13 July

LECTURE: Smuggling Horological Supplies from Switzerland in WWII by Ian Greaves

Friday 10 August

CLUB NIGHT: Combination clocks/watches – any horological items which do more than tell the time.

Friday 14 September

LECTURE: ‘Making a Turret Clock in the 14th Century’ by Keith Scobie-Youngs

September (TBA)



Recent Meetings

Meeting reports for previous years: 2017

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.