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  Reader's letter | May 2004 | Clocks Magazine

Newarke clocks

In December 2001 you published my letter in your excellent magazine giving details of The Old Clock Club’s project to catalogue the clocks in the Newarke Houses Museum, Leicester, and to put the detail on a website. This work, sponsored by ‘Awards-for-All’ covered the photographing and detailed recording of the longcase clocks before they were dispersed throughout the county. We ambitiously promised a progress report with pictures before the end of 2002. However, now we have completed the first phase of the work and have produced a compact disc navigable offline, through MSN Internet Explorer, on a personal computer .

This CD describes longcase clocks and has six photographs of each showing details of case, dial and movement. In addition, a complete set of the high-definition pictures is included so that anyone with a photographic software package on their PC can zoom in on the minutiae. We are selling copies of the CD for £10 plus postage and packaging.

The projects currently involve video recording, cataloguing and photographing the Deacon workshop in the Newarke Houses Museum before it is dismantled to make way for disabled access, now required by law in public buildings, to the upper floors. This workshop will become the property of the County Museum Service, mainly because Barton-in-the-Beans, where the workshop was discovered intact in the late 1950s, is in the Leicestershire countryside.

Samuel Deacon was a prolific clockmaker in the late 18th century who kept immaculate records and whose family carried on the tradition into the middle of the last century. Many of his clocks still exist, with five recorded on the CD, and his records are retained in the county archives. The workshop will shortly have been moved twice and the Old Clock Club is working with the Museums to ensure that its next resting place will authentically recreate the atmosphere of its period. We have other old Leicestershire clocks and watches to record, particularly some fine early lantern clocks and more longcases still hiding in storage. The club therefore still has much work to do.

We had every intention of placing our work on the website of William Bradford College, Earl Shilton, Leicestershire, the club’s headquarters. For a time we had the assistance of a ‘college whizkid’ who was developing a comprehensive database, with user-friendly access, on our behalf. However he moved on and as often happens when an enthusiast leaves there was no one to fill the void to produce a usable system. We are still hopeful that we can either develop the expertise within our group or find another expert who will work for love to enable us to complete the software and give the outside world access to Leicestershire’s fine clockmaking heritage.

Derek Wheeler, UK

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