Wales and Marches Horological Society Meeting Report
Summer Meeting 15.07.2023
We met at Cardiff Model Engineering Society’s headquarters in mid July.
Ed Cloutman began the day by telling us about his Terrier Steam Engine project. He started building two Terrier steam engines many years ago. Not satisfied with the scale drawings available at the time, he negotiated access to a Terrier and spent many days measuring it up so that he could draw up his own set of very detailed plans before starting work on the model. He bought along the chassis and boiler tank, together with some of the moulds he had made in order to get the castings for the model produced. It is a huge and impressive project compared to the scale of horological projects that some of us are more familiar with. Work continues!
Spiro Azzopardi told us of a fascinating project involving the ancient tower clock at Meteoron Monastery, near the town of Kalambaka in central Greece. A full report on his talk can be found under ‘Articles’.
Steve Dutfield brought along an example of a turret timepiece made by the Croydon firm of Gillett & Johnston. Designed in the 1930s and produced for twenty years or so, the small ‘A-frame’ movement is a type used extensively in smaller church and memorial clock towers. The lightweight escape wheel (pinwheel type) is made from pressed-steel, and the one-second wooden pendulum rod engages with a safety crutch that will slip out of engagement if the pallets meet any resistance, thus preventing damage to the escape wheel in the event of the clock stopping. Another useful feature is the oval-section pendulum bob, so shaped as to allow the movement to be installed close to the wall in small towers.
The design was scaleable, with a horizontal shaft to directly drive a single dial, or the option of a vertical drive to bevel wheels for up to four dials - the driving weight being equipped with cast lead inserts which could be added to for a higher lead-off load. Designed before the National Grid provided a uniform 50Hz AC supply throughout the country, the movement is equipped with motor winding on the endless chain principle, to which could be coupled a motor suitable for the supply in the locality. Gillett & Johnston manufactured compatible direct motor-driven strike and quarter chime units, which could be triggered by mercury tilt switches operated by a pin on the setting dial. Steve had recently seen a complete installation of this type with quarter and striking units and driving two dials, at a church in Bristol.
Brian Coles told us about his research into 20th century Black Forest ‘windmill’ Jockele clocks, and a full report on this talk can also be found under ‘Articles’.
Tony Panes gave a talk about Henry Nock, gun maker and engineer, who ran a number of workshops in the Whitechapel area of London from 1770, up to his death in 1802; he has been largely overlooked by historians and collectors alike. His workshops were capable of producing firearms of the finest quality for the civilian market, while at the same time being able to fulfil government contracts for thousands of muskets. He was a proponent of mass production and there is evidence that he made use of steam power in his workshops. He also produced a number of experimental arms for the Board of Ordnance.
Tony brought along two examples of Nock’s work. A cased set of duelling pistols for a civilian customer, and a rifled carbine for use by The London and Westminster Light Horse Volunteers; this was a regiment of cavalry first raised in 1779. This carbine could be dated to 1798, when a further three troops of “dismounted cavalry”, each of 65 men, were added to the already existing six troops of mounted cavalry. Tony explained that a number engraved on the trigger bow of the carbine was a ‘muster role number’; investigating this had led to the identification of one Philip Godsal, who was a prominent and very wealthy coach maker at the time. By a strange twist, Godsal had also been a collector of clocks and had at one time owned the Tompion now in St Fagans National Museum of History. On Nock’s death the manufactory passed to his son-in-law, James Wilkinson, and became the company we know today as Wilkinson Sword.
Alan Cobb and Steven Tyrer brought a range of 19th and 20th century clock tools for us to examine.