I am happy to record that we had a very well attended meeting; during the morning we listened to two speakers, Mike Bennett and John Robey, and after lunch we had the pleasure of hearing David Homes - the last speaker of the day.
The following is a summary of each of the talks that has been provided by our presenters.
Clockwise Around Pembrokeshire
This presentation grew from my original curiosity about how time keeping has developed; from using clockwork mechanisms to electronic technology, during my relatively short lifetime. The next step as an amateur local historian, was to research the horological heritage of Pembrokeshire where I now live, and examine how this relates to the rest of Wales and England where appropriate. As usual, this led to more questions being asked than answered, and my focus widened again to examine the evidence of the history of clocks and clockmakers in the county. As I was still not satisfied with the result, I ended up trying to assess how technological changes in time keeping, have impacted upon the everyday lives of the people of Pembrokeshire over time. I will be using a chronological thread to explore the evidence of the development of time keeping technology in Pembrokeshire, and also how this impacted upon the everyday lives of the local population. As my general horological knowledge is limited, I will be asking the members present to contribute their specialist knowledge as we go along, in order to; educate, entertain and keep everybody awake after their often long journey to St. Fagans. In conclusion, I will ask everybody to consider what the furure of time discipline will be, and what implications this will have for the future of clock technology.
(Chairman; Mike has kindly made available an article that was published in the Pembrokeshire life magazine in 2015 which can be found on this website)
Saturday 9th April 2016 - Spring Meeting
The Oakdale Institute, Welsh Folk Museum, St Fagans
John Robey's talk was about iron Gothic clocks made in Europe between about 1400 to 1700, concentrating on the different styles, construction and technical details. They were influenced by Gothic architecture and they appear in several early illustrations. They were made by clockmaker’s very skilled in forging iron and used precision dovetail joints. The eleven parts of a German clock frame are held rigidly by just two taper pins. The difference between Germanic and French/Flemish clocks was illustrated. The finest were made by the Liechti family of Winterthur, Switzerland, which are the only ones signed and dated. The progression of the decoration was illustrated by examples of different dates from various regions. It was emphasised that, apart from the Liechti clocks, dating is usually guesswork and they are often much later than supposed. The Dutch and Flemish were very found of automata and carillon Gothic clocks. Very few Gothic clocks are original and even those in major museums have replaced dials, bell frames, balance escapements, etc. Before and after photographs stressed this point, along with honest restorations, reproductions and down-right fakes.
COMTOISE – Iron Man and Survivor of the clock world
Underrated by their countrymen yet ridiculously overpriced in the USA for instance, Comtoise clocks form a sturdy and deserving pillar of the horological community.
Our proximity to France via ferry or tunnel, means that I can ‘pop across’ in a day or so and rescue movements and cases, separately or together, saving them from sure and certain journeys to the rubbish tip.
My passion for these wonderful machines is born of respect for the families who originally made them in the Jura mountains in the Franche-Comte to the east of France, where long, dark, cold winters made farming impossible.
The fast flowing Bienne river, running close to the villages of Morbier and Morez, gave rise to iron smelting mills which the cash-strapped mountain villagers took advantage of to form the basics of the tough, chunky iron caged movements which, across the 19th and 20th centuries, gave us literally thousands of Comtoise clocks. Also known as Morbier clocks and Morez clocks, they became an iconic feature of French country life.
Built and assembled latterly in factories, though still in the Franche-Comte region, Comtoise clocks were produced en mass right up the the beginning of the first world war. Some die-hard makers produced them up to the 1970s.
Early or late, these clocks are are built like locomotives and are as strong as battleships, are easy to work on, and a genuine pleasure to bring back to life and save from landfill.
All attending members stayed for the AGM, the minutes of which will be published on our website shortly.
The affiliation between ourselves and the AHS was discussed and was accepted unanimously by our members.
A book auction was then held with £75 being raised for the society funds.