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  Reader's letter | September 2003 | Clocks Magazine

Mercer and Harrison

I read Rita Shenton’s review (Clocks Magazine, July 2003) of the new book by Tony Mercer with great interest. Rita mentions the nice photographs of chronometers restored by Mercers at St Albans, including references to H1 and H3. 

In case anyone should get the impression that Mercers restored these great timekeepers, it must be pointed out that this is not correct. Those readers who saw the dramatised documentary film Longitude, will recall that it was Lt Cdr R T Gould (played by Jeremy Irons) who undertook this work in the 1920s and 30s. Of course, Gould employed a number of other craftsmen to carry out specific tasks for him at various times although the vast majority of the work was done with his own hands in his own workshop. On the reconstruction of original parts of H1, Mercers were asked to make new balance springs and repair one of the wheels. For this work Gould did detailed design drawings and typed out careful instructions (in November 1932), and only relevant parts of H1 were sent to St Albans; there is no evidence that I can find that H1 itself was ever at Mercers.

It was this magnificent achievement of Gould’s which was partly the reason for his being awarded the BHI Gold Medal in 1947. A biography of R T Gould is currently in preparation.

Jonathan Betts, UK

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