Press Release: West Dean College clocks conservation professional to give George Daniels Lecture

Matthew Read, Clocks Conservation Programme Leader at West Dean College, will be giving the George Daniels Lecture at City University of London on Wednesday 30 November (6.30pm). The annual Lecture series celebrates the life and work of George Daniels, CBE, a pioneer independent watchmaker and inventor who was considered to be the best horologist in the world and was famous for creating the co-axial escapement which has been used by Omega since 1999. Read is an ICON Accredited Conservator and a Member of the Antiquarian Horological Society. In Conservation, Craft and Clockmaking he will look at some of the many synergies between these elements and how they may shape the future of clockmaking.

"In recent years, the awareness of the importance of preserving our horological heritage has grown. The inherited fossil record of horological materials forms a wider societal material memory, allowing insight to the past and giving inspiration for the future," says Read. "In curatorship and conservation, scientific analytical techniques are now widely employed to reveal information that would otherwise remain hidden, adding depth and qualification to knowledge. The craftsperson understands the manipulation of materials from hours to intimate engagement, leading often to tacit skill. The maker uses materials to manifest creativity and develop new boundaries".

Read's first encounters with professional clockmaking came from a series of short courses at the British Horological Institute, as part of his family's third generation jewellery business in East Yorkshire. He went on to learn his trade via the postgraduate programme at West Dean College. A four-year term at the National Maritime Museum gave him valuable curatorial experience and introduced him to conservation within clocks. During a period as an independent conservator to national heritage organisations Read worked on significant projects such as the 18th Century Bowes Swan Automaton and the 17th Century Fromantel Clock at the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford. He was also Project Leader on the conservation of the rare 18th Century Pyke Organ Clock, part of the collection at Leeds Temple Newsam, conserved at West Dean College in 2014. For the past seven years he has taught Foundation, Postgraduate and MA programmes at the college.

David Newman, Chairman of the George Daniels Educational Trust, said: "We are delighted that Matthew Read, an authoritative voice in horological conservation, will be delivering this year's George Daniels Lecture at City, University of London. We look forward to listening to his informative insights which we are confident will follow the very high standard of Lectures inaugurated three years ago".

Previous George Daniels Lectures include: Optical Atomic Clocks - Lights Years Ahead? Professor Patrick Gill, a world-leading expert (2013 inaugural lecture); The Challenge of Invention: An Eternal Flame by Andrew King, historian and horologist (2014); and The Watchmaker's Apprentice by Roger W Smith (2015).

West Dean College's Clocks programmes offer students the opportunity to train in specialist, well-equipped workshops. Diploma students learn to make a clock in its entirety in their first year of study.

West Dean is one of the few colleges in the world which offers graduate and postgraduate study in object-specific conservation disciplines, including Books, Ceramics, Clocks, Metalwork and Furniture. Qualifications include a Foundation Degree in Historic Craft Practices, a Graduate and a Postgraduate Diploma, and MA Conservation Studies, validated by the University of Sussex.

To book a place on the George Daniels Lecture 2016 at City University of London visit


Notes to editors

  • West Dean College is part of The Edward James Foundation which also comprises West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and the West Dean Tapestry Studio. Charity No. 1126084.
  • The George Daniels' Educational Trust is an Isle of Man Registered Charity No. 1096. The George Daniels' Educational Trust Advisory Committee acts as advisers to the trustees on all horological matters of the Trusts' work.
  • All photography is free to use for editorial purposes.
  • West Dean College is situated on the A286, six miles north of Chichester and within easy access of Portsmouth, Guildford, Brighton and London.

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West Dean College, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 OQZ