In 1962 on leaving school, I was taken on as an apprentice watchmaker by a classy Huddersfield jeweller Fillans & Sons, who in those far off days had a busy workshop and a staff of nine men (and one woman to polish the silver and jewellery). Each member of the staff was a qualified expert in some aspect of the Horological or Jewellery profession.
Although I was paid a pittance, I was fortunate to gain a breadth and depth of training which is just not possible today. In those days it was reckoned to take seven years to become a competent watchmaker, five years apprenticeship and a further two years 'improving'. Skills acquired from those thousands of hours at the bench at a young age stay with you for a lifetime. Theoretical knowledge was imbued on a regular two days a week routine at the long defunct Horology department of Bradford Technical College. At the end of my studies I was awarded a gold medal from the college and a British Horological Institute prize for the national exams. As a result I was elected to Fellowship of the Institute at the youngest possible age of 21.
After leaving Fillans, I spent some years as a practising watchmaker, eventually moving to the retail side of the profession, ending up as a manager in a busy retail jewellers in Cambridge. Moving to a great University city was a real eye opener and as a keen amateur musician I soon became involved in both town and gown communities. The 1970's was not a great decade for the horological trade, the introduction of cheap electronic watches made the skills of a watchmaker seem obsolete. Thus I began to look to the teaching profession for my future and encouraged and supported by many kind friends in the Cambridge academic community, I completed a history degree and undertook a post graduate teaching course at Homerton College (fond memories of life as a not too mature student, and the good fortune of being supported on a very generous grant!). I ended up moving to the nearby town of Huntingdon, taking up a post as a history teacher at Hinchingbrooke School in 1979.
As it turned out, 1979 the year of Margaret Thatcher's election as Prime Minister, was not a good time to start a career in education, the next two decades were ones of great upheavals and strife in the profession. Although looking back, I have to admit that many of the changes were for the better, although the loss of status and respect for the teaching profession was most unfortunate. After fifteen years of work at the chalk-face an enlightened and distinguished head teacher offered me the post of Curator which went with the large historic house (Hinchingbrooke House, the former home of the Cromwell Family and the Earls of Sandwich), attached to the school. Eventaully this released me from most of my teaching responsibilities and allowed me to build up a workshop and take up horological work again.
I became fascinated with chronometers and began experiments in constructing modern versions of these wonderful instruments. A chronometer carriage clock was entered for the 1994 artist/craftsman competition of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers and to my delight gained first prize which was accompanied by the honor of election 'by gift' to the Freedom of the Company, one of the ancient city companies founded in 1631. By then I was developing a business restoring antique watches and clocks, which soon became my full time occupation.
In 2013 I moved to the Cotswolds and set up my business in Stow on the Wold.