Filed under horology


For many centuries tradesmen learned their craft via apprenticeships. In Britain they were generally contracted outside the family to widen the skills taught and if a master died, the newly qualified journeyman might marry his master’s widow to continue the business and prevent the family becoming bankrupt. This meant it was rare for people in … Continue reading

Bath Pump Room

Bath Pump Room

This is where visitors to the spa used to come in the mornings for a large drink of the famous waters. You can still try the stuff – tastes rather metallic, but I’ve had worse. Cheltenham water is said to be truly awful. This is now an upmarket tea room, and if you are lucky … Continue reading

Milton’s Watch

Here’s an intriguing article from the Sussex Advertiser of 29 August 1836: “A poor family in this county recently received a box from America, as part of the effects of an aged relative, whose ancestors had emigrated to that continent soon after the time of the Commonwealth; the box contained coins from the time of … Continue reading

Time Stops in South Wales

This is from yesterday’s i newspaper, another example of the public sector cutbacks, and a sad reminder of how it is affecting our public spaces. “Time has come to a standsill in Swansea, after a clock-keeper retired last week. David Mitchell, 72, the official horologist and only fellow of the British Horological Institute in south … Continue reading

Astronomy and the Sea

The book I’m slowly swimming through, shaping Time, is slow work because it keeps making me think of other things it highlights. Like the fact that accurate astronomy was known by the ancients, almost 2,000 years ago, but for most of European history, sailors relied on deep local knowledge and guess work. If they used … Continue reading

Clocks and Rituals

Clocks are seen as a source of control, but the early clocks in churches were huge – at times the dial was 2 metres wide, showing hours, days, lunar phases, planetary positions high and low tides, as well as automata and music with the bells striking. Clocks were not just for telling time, they employed … Continue reading

Time and Control

There seems to be a general assumption that clocks were invented to control people, as part of the industrialisation of the west, etc. but as ‘Shaping the Day’ by Paul Glennie & Nigel Thrift explain, the truth is far more complicated. Time keeping existed about 3,000 years ago, but it was in 2 forms. The … Continue reading

What is a clock?

This seems a stupid question. Even with our choices of dials, digital or talking, we know what they are. But mechanical time keeping began as alarm clocks, to wake priests for their services, or to announce services through the day, or for people to take lunch breaks. Sometimes the alarm would disturb a human who … Continue reading