Press Release: Turn back time – West Dean College of Arts and Conservation supports future horologists

The College is offering five fully-funded places on a special horology taster course for students aged 16+ years to support the future generation of clockmakers.

In 2019 Clockmaking was classified as an ‘endangered’ craft on the Heritage Craft Association’s Red List of Endangered Crafts, categorising it as “a craft which currently has sufficient craftspeople to transmit the craft skills to the next generation, but for which there are serious concerns about their ongoing viability.”

Students currently studying for their A-levels or BTEC, (typically in engineering, science, maths or a humanities subject), and have an interest in learning hands-on skills, are invited to apply for the four day Introduction to Horology course (ie: clocks, watches and other time-associated mechanisms). The course will take place in the horology workshops at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation near Chichester, West Sussex from Monday, April 6 through to Thursday, April 9, 2020. It is tailored to appeal to students, who are considering their options, and may be interested in studying on the College’s two-year Foundation degree (FdA) in Historic Craft Practices.

Subject leader at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, Malcolm Archer explains: “With the clocks about to go back in the UK on Sunday, October 27, 2019 – the mechanisms of time-keeping come into our public consciousness. The world of Horology is a fascinating area to work in and we have alumni working as independent clockmakers and with national and international collections.”

He continues: “This short course at West Dean is aimed at beginner horologists, and appeals to those who like to use their hands and may be considering a practical career in engineering or similar but also have an interest in the arts, science and history. We have had students with a BTEC in engineering, for example, who come to gain their FdA at West Dean, which is awarded by the University of Sussex.”

West Dean Horology Alumni Dale Sardeson, said: “I was training to be an accountant, but I wasn’t feeling inspired. It dawned on me that I needed to be more active, creative, I needed to work with my hands. During this time I began to develop the casual interest I had in horology into something more. My appreciation for mathematics and mechanisms combined with my love of craft and design found a perfect home in the world of clocks.”

He goes on to say: “I discovered the FdA at West Dean. Here was a programme that didn't expect me to come here with any knowledge. As long as I was willing to put the work in, I could achieve.”

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Notes to editors

Prospective students interested in the Introduction to Horology course should apply by February 14, 2020 for a fully funded place by downloading the Application form or contacting charlotte.pede@westdean.org.uk. Accommodation is available (age 18+ or if accompanied by adult). Students who take part in this course and subsequently apply to study the Foundation degree will be exempted from the interview and skills-test usually required. 

Students are introduced to a range of keystone horology skills, including accurate marking and cutting/drilling of material, filing flat and square, riveting, metal turning and wheel cutting. Using a jig to bend the steel, students make a strip-pallet recoil escapement such as those seen in many American production-era clocks. For those at a beginner level it is the perfect way to create a fully functioning escapement, which is the beating heart of a clock, in just a few days. Course participants are also introduced to a range of finishing techniques for brass, so they can personalise the plates of their escapement model.

For others keen to learn practical horology skills the College offers an Introduction to Clockmaking four-day short course for beginners in Summer 2020, details to be announced soon.

The College was founded in 1971 by the poet and Surrealist patron, Edward James, recognised by BBC Arts as the ‘the greatest patron of art of the early 20th century’.

The College is part of The Edward James Foundation (Charity No. 1126084), also comprising West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and West Dean Tapestry Studio.

All photography is free to use for editorial purposes.

For all media enquiries please contact Rachel Aked:

Email rachel.aked@westdean.org.uk
Telephone 07790 732448

West Dean College of Arts and Conservation, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 OQZ