Northern Section

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

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Meetings - 2024

Chronographs, stopwatches and portable timers (April 2024)

This topic inspired members to search their collections; the image below shows a large display which was brought by just one member.

It includes timers for photography, aircraft, cookery, telephone call charges, medical and military uses. Amongst the chronographs and stopwatches there were examples made specifically for timing torpedoes, split second chronographs for timing race horses and for yacht racing, chronographs for aircraft use including one with a slide rule for calculating fuel usage, early automatic chronographs by Zenith, Universal Geneve and Omega and a French tachymetre for calculating speed or distance travelled.

Apr 24 - 1 Large collection.jpg

Items shown by other members included a Cadencia portable metronome by Swiss Home Watch Company and a pocket watch which doubled as a thermometer; a Russian chronograph and an example signed by M. Hoffenberg of Leeds; a heavy, Blick portable time recorder and a timer rescued by a member from his workplace when it was scrapped 20 years ago – surprisingly its battery is still working!

Apr 24 - 2 Pocket Metronome-Cadencia.JPG
Cadencia portable metronome.
APr 24 - 3 Pocket watch with thermometer.JPG
Pocket watch by Louis Appolt incorporating a thermometer.
Apr 24 - 4 Leeds chrono.jpeg
Apr 24 - 5 works timer.JPG
Electronic timer rescued in 2003 by a member from his workplace when it was no longer required. It can time intervals from one hundredth of a second to 10 hours. Its original power source (which is unknown) is still capable of running and displaying the timer.

An update on research into James Condliff, his family and their clocks. (March 2024)

Although many of James Condliff’s clocks are widely admired, the range of the work of three generations of Condliff clockmakers is probably better known in the north of England than elsewhere. Whilst touching upon much of the ground covered by Darlah Thomas in the London Lecture of January 2024, this talk included further information which has recently come to light. The images below illustrate some of the range of products made by the Condliff family.

Mar 24 1 HMP Lpool.jpg
This is the turret clock made by James Condliff in 1854 for Walton Jail, Liverpool, (now known as HMP Liverpool). It has been replaced by an electric clock but the mechanism is now displayed in the main entrance of the prison. Photo: Sue Harris, HMP Liverpool, 2021
Mar 24 2 Dreweatts.jpg
This skeleton clock is a Series 1-2 hybrid timepiece. It has a brass frame with its winding barrel set within the movement arch, and a serpent, balance wheel and helical spring mounted in the lower area which are all characteristics of Series One clocks. However, it has a single chapter ring which is familiar on James Condliff’s Series Two and Three skeleton clocks. Each clock in this hybrid series is different from all the others, usually in the position of the barrels, the shape and position of the serpent, or its complete absence and some have a strike or ting tang chime on gongs in the timber base. Photo: Dreweatts
Mar 24 3 Classic Condliff Reg.jpg
Mar 24 3a Condliff stamp.jpg
A classic style Condliff regulator with a 12 inch dial. There is no name on the dial but on the movement there is the Condliff stamp and the name of the original purchaser: Jno B. McFadden, 1832, a Pittsburgh jeweller, watch and clock maker. It is a high quality, top of the range instrument with all the refinements required by the serious horologist or astronomer of its time. The Condliff stamp is to be found on the base of the movement’s front plate. Photo: Jonny Flower
Mar 24 4 Penlington.jpg
Many clocks made by the Condliff family in Liverpool were sold by retailers whose names appear on their dials. This is a two train table clock signed by retailer: Josh Penlington. Several clocks with similar inlaid brass inset in different patterns have appeared on the market in recent years. The Condliff stamp is on the back of this movement.

Bring and display: horological items relating to X, Y and Z. (February 2024)

Members found these letters challenging, but some lateral thinking resulted in an interesting evening. Items shown are listed below and a selection of images is included:

Letter X. This being the most difficult letter, some interpretations were creative …

Ten horological reference books (X the Roman numeral for 10)

Ex-military items:-
A wristwatch by Omega dated 1943 which was issued by the RAF.
A mechanism for timing aircraft turns, probably dating to WWll, marked ‘Signal Corps US Army’, and ‘Sangamo Electric Company, Illinois’.

Feb 24 Timer 1.jpg
Feb 24 Timer 2.jpg

Letter Y.

Three pocket watches signed ‘Thomas Yates, Preston’. These were hallmarked 1849, 1860 and 1873. In addition, there were two 1920s Yates watch keys, each showing a different numbered location within Friargate, Preston.

Two items connected with America – Yanks!
A girl on a swing replaced a standard pendulum on a very decorative clock.
US government ‘Marathon’ chronometer.

A 1960s year-going longcase clock by Peter Bradley of Leicester.

Feb 24 Marathon 1.jpg

Letter Z.

Three pocket watches:
James Lowe, Hazel Grove’ [Stockport].
A warranted railway timekeeper signed by CB Mazzucchi, Crook, [County Durham].
A fine movement and dial only, signed Zimmerman, Liverpool, number 16158.

Two Swiss quartz ‘carriage clocks’ made by Imhof, one signed ‘Garrard’ and the other ‘Garrard & Co., London’.

Feb 24 Zimmerman 1 x.jpg
Feb 24 Zimmerman 2x.jpg

Prescot Time Ball Project opening (January 2024)

Thirty-two Northern Section members and guests were invited to a simple opening ceremony at the Prescot Time Ball Project on 13th January 2024. We were the guests of Ron Musker and his family; Ron has been the driving force behind this project. A few years ago, Ron purchased an old time ball which had once been mounted on Beale’s Building in Islington, London. When that building was demolished in 1970, the ball became redundant after eighty years’ service. It arrived in Prescot in poor condition, but Ron had plans. The Flat Iron Building in Prescot which Ron had owned since the 1970s was ready for refurbishment and as it had a significant place in the town’s horological history as the home of the Lancashire Watch Company office, strong room, a few workshops and small warehouse, it was ideal for his purpose - to have a functioning time ball on his building as a beacon of the town’s horological past. We were there to witness the project’s completion.

Prescot Visit 1 Our visit.jpg
Jim Arnfield welcomed members and guests and then Justin Koullapis, who has been interested in the project since it began, spoke on the history of time balls and of Prescot’s former role in our horological history.
Prescot Visit 2 clock.jpg
The clock for the project was made by John Johnson of Prescot c.1815. Johnson’s workshop was about 100 metres from the Flat Iron Building.
Prescot Visit 3 Time ball before restoration.jpg
The time ball before restoration.
Prescot Visit 4 Lifting arm during construction.jpg
The ball lifting-arm during construction.
Prescot Visit 5 Phil Ron Jim Brian.jpg
The horological team. From left: Phil Irvine, Ron Musker, Jim Arnfield, Brian Percival.
Prescot Visit 6 the finished project.jpg
The project apparatus complete.
Prescot Visit 7.jpg
The apparatus is located in the stairwell of the building just inside the entrance hall.
Prescot Visit 8 FIB testing.jpg
The Flat Iron Building with the time ball raised during a period of testing (that is why the clock is showing 11 o’clock). It will rise to the top of the pole a few minutes before 1pm daily and drop exactly as the clock strikes one o’clock.

AGM and video presentation (January 2024)

The meeting opened with the usual greetings and notices and then the AGM followed. Once the formal proceedings were completed, we had a refreshment break and then the group was shown a video entitled The Anatomy of a Singing Bird Box. The box, thought to date to c1865, was made by Frenchman Jacques Bruguier (1801-1871) who worked in Geneva.

The film was made and narrated by John Moorhouse and explains the construction and operation of the box and its bird automaton which John had the task of restoring. He explained some of the problems he faced and detailed how to set up and adjust the mechanism.

Jan 24 Singing Bird-DVD x.jpg