Author Topic: A new forum on wooden works clocks  (Read 23612 times)

Offline jrbeall

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Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2010, 02:40:30 AM »

The members are from all over but most, I think. are in the US.  I am in Newark Ohio.

Happy New Year.


Offline Reid Heilig

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Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2010, 12:54:39 PM »
Ian, I am in North Carolina. Reid

Offline Sablatnic

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Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2010, 09:21:06 PM »
I live in Denmark, about 50 km from Copenhagen. And I see, that I have to change my browser.


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Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2010, 05:34:23 PM »
Well, if you are visiting the United Kingdom, there are a number of "Harrison" sites, National Maritime Museum (Royal Observatory), Brocklesby Park, various sites in north Lincolnshire (examples of joinery works), Nostell Priory, Guildhall in London (collection of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers. Hope you can make it to Leeds. Presently the precision pendulum-clock is in storage, there is a little more conservation work to do, but mainly it is a matter of working up the project plan for the display and interpretation of this unique and highly significant object. Harrison's story just keeps rolling on into the future. The BBC has created a new project "A History of the World" in partnership with a lot of museums around the UK. The website goes live in a few days. There will be some TV programmes too. One of them will be about Harrison and this clock, filming this month, broadcast some time during 2010. My next article is for the Regional Furniture Society, just a short article, final draft sent to RFS editor follows:

John and James Harrison, joiners of Barrow-upon-Humber, North Lincolnshire

The August 2009 issue of the Furniture History Society newsletter gave details of a John “Longitude” Harrison (1693-1776) precision pendulum-clock of 1727 at Leeds Museums and Galleries. The article also placed the clock in the context of Harrison’s quest for precision timekeeping as the practical solution to determining longitude at sea.

There are a number of significant points about the clock at Leeds. Of the three precision pendulum-clocks it is the one in the most original condition. It is also one of the clocks on which Harrison continued his experiments with temperature compensation via the grid-iron pendulum. His own notes state that he removed the grid-iron from No. 2 (the Leeds clock) when he sold it, and that he continued the experimental work on No. 3, the precision pendulum-clock he kept for the rest of his life and the one that he used to test all his later clocks against.

The predominant, not-to-say accurate, but incomplete perception of Harrison is of a self-taught clockmaker and scientist, and Dava Sobel’s bestseller, Longitude, achieved remarkable success in raising awareness of his extraordinary achievements in this respect: a man of humble birth who taught himself clockmaking, and used his scientific and engineering intellect and determination to solve the most intractable problem of the 18th century. Harrison’s harnessing of the fourth dimension, time, to link points on the three dimensional globe, demonstrates an early foray into the waters of space-time. Ships’ chronometers revolutionised navigation and map-making, and were still being used for determining longitude until the advent of the Global Positioning System, a system which nevertheless retains precision timekeepers at its heart to calculate distances to triangulate a position.

New Yorker columnist Malcolm Gladwell’s recent, fascinating book Outliers, aims to shed light on why some people can achieve extraordinary success. Gladwell’s premise is that, in trying to understand these “outliers”, too much emphasis has been placed on the individual: “we’ve been looking at the tall trees, and I think we should have been looking at the forest.” Applied to John Harrison his brilliance and extraordinary success cannot be denied, but was he really the lone genius he was made out to be in Longitude?

In order to properly understand his achievements much more needs to be known about his formative years. What indisputably has received less attention is the fact that he and his younger brother James Harrison (1704-1766), with whom he worked in partnership for a time, were very fine joiners, and that several examples of their non-clock works are still in existence. Their father, Henry Harrison, was after all a carpenter who had very likely been the estate carpenter at Nostell Priory, the country house of the Winn family, near Wakefield, West Yorkshire. It is therefore probable that Henry trained his lads to be the fine craftsmen they became.
The use of wood for the movements of John’s early clocks is, in some senses, incidental. Put simply, wood was their starting point and wood was the material that John and James knew well. However, John Harrison had an inventive and lateral-thinking mind and if, say, carbon fibre and high-density nylon had been available it is quite possible that he would also have been experimenting with these to see if they could help bring him closer to his goal!

Fortunately John and James Harrison’s early working life will be the subject of some more comprehensive articles and publications from Andrew King, who has been researching John and James and their early work, clocks and joinery. An RFS Journal article is planned, as is a book, both of which should greatly help with understanding their early influences. Further, there will be a BBC documentary on Harrison and the clock at Leeds, to be broadcast sometime in 2010 and a BBC website project, “A History of the World”, which will be online from January 2010, also has a feature on this unique clock.

Text ends.

When the BBC History of the World website goes live I will let the forum know via a posting, it will be soon though.

Offline rus

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Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2010, 03:13:42 AM »
Hello Ian,
Thank you for posting the informative gallery.  Most of us have only seen diagrams and those things we create, but to see photos of a true Harrison grasshopper is simply wonderful.  To see it for real and handle it .... well I'm just jealous.  I had a similar experience when I dismantled an early 18th century brass works and saw the  maker's scribe marks on the insides of the plates.  The clockmaker was speaking to me from 300 years past.

Mr Beall, if you're reading this, is there a way to move Ian's entry elsewhere on the forum because many of the crew may miss it where it is. It was just by dumb luck that I found it.

 thanks again from Minneapolis MN

Offline Paul

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Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
« Reply #20 on: January 09, 2010, 09:58:11 PM »
I just ran across a video of one of these clocks the other day.  The gallery that Ian posted was amazing.  It is great to see all the individual pieces.  Here is a link to part 1 of the video:


Paul in Indianapolis, IN


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response to rus
« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2010, 09:53:45 PM »
Hi rus, glad you liked the pictures. Just to advise, the grasshopper you see is a replacement, but based of course on known examples of Harrison's grasshopper escapements. The clock had been converted to an anchor escapement at some stage, but the evidence was clear that it had a grasshopper originally. The decision was made to re-instate the grasshopper, and we, i.e. staff at Leeds Museums and Galleries are very grateful for the assistance and guidance of Andrew King with regard to the assessments and treatments to the movement. Harrison's notes say that he removed the grid-iron from No. 2 when he sold it, and the evidence that it was there, again, was clear. The grid-iron and its suspension are a unit, and the recess where the suspension was, is identical to the other precision pendulum-clocks. The decision was made to not re-instate a grid-iron pendulum, the idea being that we wanted the clock to be as close as possible to when Harrison sold it. It is highly likely that he fitted the brass plate we see now from which to hang a conventional pendulum. Further analysis is planned, and I will keep this forum updated.

I still have to pinch myself sometimes that I have a Harrison clock under my care, especially coming as I do, from the Queen's Dominion of Canada. I would never have thought it, even though I have plenty of important and valuable items under my care. It is my sincerest wish that the display and interpretation of this unique piece of British history does it, and Harrison's legacy, justice. I put it in the top ten items in the Leeds collections (which are huge) of art, archaeology, social history, natural history, science and industry, etc. no question. My work base is at Temple Newsam House, a very old and very interesting country house museum. The website is

Please have a look, I think it is pretty good, I hope you think so too.


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Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2010, 08:21:56 AM »
The BBC's A History of the World website is now up and running. The Harrison precision pendulum-clock No. 2 is included in the Leeds menu

Offline Troy Hendricks

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Re: A new forum on wooden works clocks
« Reply #23 on: August 09, 2013, 06:52:53 AM »
    I'm new member of this forum, Welcome all of you. I have interest in Watches.
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