To give you a taste of the way our meetings are conducted, a few past topics are listed below. Meetings usually begin at 10.00am with coffee and biscuits and allow half an hour for members to chat and get up-to-date with news. A typical meeting continues with the morning session of talks, which proceeds until lunch at 1.00pm ( there may be a half-hour bar break before lunch). The afternoon session begins about 2.15pm and the meeting closes at around 4.15pm. Members are encouraged to contribute to a theme at these meetings, (e.g. lantern clocks, turret clocks) and where research on a particular maker is taking place, members have been treated to a unique display of mechanisms, so that they can directly compare the dials and movements. 'Bring and buy' sessions are popular and there are demonstrations of members' work such as clocks or horological equipment they have made. Past talks include:
Spiro Azzopardi - Clock Hunting in the Monasteries of the Mount Athos Peninsula, Greece.
Not only is it extremely difficult to get access to this area (and you have to speak Greek), but the hidden treasures it holds are unbelievable. The monks were great craftsmen, and built their own clocks as well as imported. They were also great gunsmiths. English bracket clocks and lantern clocks lie in their museums alongside ancient firearms. There were several turret clocks, mostly abandoned. Travel between monasteries was on foot as roads (such as they are) are frequently impassable due to landslides. Even when the monasteries are reached it is extremely difficult to get access to the museums, and Spiro frequently left without seeing a clock. But the experience has excited him enough to try and make a return trip, and the members are looking forward to his next talk! Further trips are expected - this is ongoing research!
Tony Bird gave us a running commentary sprinkled with amusing anecdotes and reminiscences on his life in the horological trade from his apprenticeship days until his recent retirement. Tony and his brother have given up the clock, watch and jewellery shop in Cardiff after a lifetime in the trade. Tony showed his collection of watchmaking tools, demonstrating his skill at turning between centres using a bow and his skill with many of the other hand-operated tools-of-the-trade..
Ed Cloutman - Pull Repeat Mechanisms and the use of CAD in horology.
This talk included the restoration of a bracket clock by Joseph Knibb published in Horological Journal, February, March and April 2000. Henry Williams of Lancarvan - the story of this craftsman and producer of high quality clocks in South Wales has culminated in the production of the book of the same name- research is ongoing with Bill Linnard. Practical lectures on clock restoration and discussion of unusual clocks, and more recently Clock hunting in Bermuda - turret clocks and privately owned clocks that have come to light on this small island in the middle of the Atlantic.
Phil Coggan - Engraving Guns.
This was the first talk ever given by Phil, who used to work as a painter for the Coal Board and in his spare time used to make replica guns. He started engraving the locks for himself, as he couldn't afford to buy one until Purdey's saw his work and commissioned him to engrave for them. His work was so good that he soon found himself working for American collectors and is now one of about half a dozen top engravers in the world. One gun may take six months to a year to complete, inset with gold and silver. Traditional hand engraving methods are used, only on steel rather than brass. The metal is undercut to hold the gold and silver inlay. Hatching is used to impart shading and give depth to the engraving. It was a fascinating insight into a craft that has not changed for hundreds of years.
Emyr Davies - Clock Conservation in Museums: Ethics and Practical Aspects.
Emyr is trained in horology and furniture conservation and restoration and is now working at the Museum of Welsh Life. Thus he is one of the few horologists who is an expert on both movements and clock cases. He is at present working on the Iscoyd Tompion and part of his talk was on the state of the movement and the case. He discussed the controversial addition of the fusee striking mechanism and indicated on the movement where the kidney shaped cam (operating the equation of time pointer) had been moved to account for the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in the 18th century.
Mike Grange - The Voyce Clockmakers of the Forest of Dean.
This talk included a guided tour of the Voyce clock collection at Soudley.
Bill Linnard - The Vaughans of Pontypool: A Family of Clockmakers and their Clocks.
This was published in Antiquarian Horology 2001, June, pp. 137-148. More recently, Henry Williams of Lancarvan - tracing the historical facts on Williams and how he came to be working in a tiny Welsh village from his roots in Gloucester.
Bernard North - The Scent of Time -
a fascinating talk on incense clocks describing the history and mechanisms of these unusual timepieces.
W.T. Rees Pryce - Comtoise Clocks.
This talk combined social history and horology, compared the British longcase with the French Comtoise, gave details of the development of the Comtoise and an account of clock-hunting in France.
John Robey of Mayfield Books gave us a splendid talk on the making of clocks in the 18th and 19th Centuries. He discussed a novel approach to depthing wheel and pinions (which is discussed in his two volume work "The Longcase Clock Reference Book". He also showed us examples of movement sets which contained all the parts to manufacture a clock movement.
Roger Still from West Dean College, West Sussex where he is Tutor in Antique Clock Conservation and Restoration gave us an illustrated history of the development of the longcase clock from the invention of the pendulum in 1657 to Queen Victoria.