By Tim Hughes

It is the end of week 5 already, halfway through the term one! Surely it was only a couple of days ago that I was discussing the projects to turn my hand to on return from summer break with my tutor Matthew Read.

It was decided that I would undertake a verge reconversion to a spring driven table clock by Alex Giroust, London, ca 1730. His name suggests that he may be a descendant of French Huguenots who fled France during and after the 17th century Protestant uprising.

Spring driven table clock by Alex Giroust, London, ca. 1730

The task was to first remove the escapement, which is an early 19th century replacement anchor recoil escapement, and then to replace this with a verge and crown wheel escapement as would have been original.

After a couple of days of making drawings and working out the technical calculations, the practical work started with the making of "mock-up" components. This is necessary to confirm that calculations are correct a good test run before making the final parts from expensive cast brass.

Mock-up test components to confirm calculations

One of the most important things for me to achieve is the appropriate look and feel of the new components. Understandably, it is difficult and not necessarily desirable to hide the fact that there are new components in the clock, but it is possible to make them look sympathetically authentic.

Meanwhile, the rest of the department are very busy with their various projects. My fellow second year students, Ken and Philippe, are getting on with their jobs - Ken with his variety of French clocks and Philippe with his pull quarter repeat replacement.

The first years are engaged with the making of their clocks. It is great to see their enthusiasm for the project and the different styles of design. Clearly they are hoping to raise the game on our clocks from last year! They probably suspect by now that they still have many, many more hours of hard work ahead of them. All the same, I look forward to seeing the results.

Back to the bench now - onwards and upwards!


PS: Our course tutor Matthew arrived back from a weekend in Yorkshire bringing with him an entirely un expected surprise… somehow, and we are all still a bit vague on this, he managed to acquire a whippet. Now named 'Nippy', whether appropriately so we cannot tell as yet, we nevertheless have made him the clocks department mascot.

This is what Nippy may look like… we haven’t actually seen him yet.