Sep 24 2016


A NOISEY WONDER; a thing of steel,

of smoke and dirt and rhythmic wheel,

of steam and heat and dust and grime,

speeding, needing to be on time

but often not – but who cared?

in those days everybody shared

my childhood love of the railways.

those racing engines, shouting aloud

of speed and power, looked so proud

with maroon coach and smoking plume

and showering spark and choking fume

that caught my throat as i looked on

in childhood days. those days are gone

with the glory of the railways.

for those behemoths days were numbered.

on scrap heaps now, those things of wonder,

in dreams of steam and heat, they slumbered

as paints peel off, and rusts encumbered

their mighty girth. and over yonder

comes the banshee scream of a diesel train.

the throbbing notes of its engines pain

the ears, and peace is wrenched asunder.

redundant now, for efficiency,

diesel power and electricity

replace the mighty strength of steam

that moulders now in silents dreams.

gone! are the things i knew so well.

gone! is the sight, the sound, the smell

and the beauty of the railways.

that’s all i have to tell you, son.

the things i loved as a child have gone

to heaps of rust, forever lost;

victims of change and rising cost


Sep 08 2016


According to the number of signed clocks, of which there are reliable records, the number of grandfather clocks makers in Cheshire was more numerous than in the previous century and the standard of craftsmanship was very high. It is unusual to find a grandfather clock of the 18th century bearing two names, but this occurs with one signed ” John Kitchen and Lloyd, Nantwich “. The date of this clock is about 1700. This John Kitchen was probably the father of a second John Kitchen(or Kitching ) of Nantwich by which a clock was made in 1775. Also in Nantwich about that period, was Thomas  Burchall, maker of a clock  date 1760. An earlier grandfather clock  signed ” Mathew Bushell, Aston ”  and thought to be  about 1750,was by the Mathew Bushell of Arley, Cheshire, 1740. Between 1742 and 1770, the following grandfather clock makers were at Stockport: Josiah Stringer 1742-1750, James Heaph, James Hopper, and H Clarkson , all have clocks dated 1770. At Knutsford, there was a James Hough 1740 and there was also a clock dated 1760 by  John Hough, Warrington.



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Aug 13 2016


In Chester’s first and second directories of 1781 and 1782 four longcase/ grandfather clock makers are mentioned by name: Robert Fletcher, New Linenhall  Street, Benjamin Peers, Eastgate Street; John Smith, Foregate Street; and James Thomas, Northgate Street. Of the last named,  the writer cannot find trace, but of the first three, further clues are to be found. It is, for instance, highly probable, that a second Robert Fletcher, who was a longcase/grandfather clock maker in Chester 1814-1834, was the son or a relative of  the Fletcher of 1782. Benjamin Peers was a member of a noted family of  longcase/grandfather clock makers from about 1745 to 1840. Benjamin Peers of Chester was the maker of a longcase/grandfather clock dated 1790 and listed in F. J. Britten’s ” Old clocks and their  makers ” now a standard work of reference. Over 11,00o clockmakers are traceable through this list, and as in the case of Benjamin Peers, a particular clock by a listed craftsman is frequently recorded with its date. John Smith of  Foregate street, would appear to be related to John Smith of Chester and the maker of a bracket clock of 1740



Jul 13 2016


Recent acquisitions by the Grosvenor Museum include three examples of Antique Grandfather Clocks by Chester Clock and Watchmakers. The earliest is a Lantern Clock of the second half of the 17th century by John Buck. It is of brass and of the usual type, the face engraved  with a floral pattern and the upper part decorated with pairs of opposed dolphins in openwork and with baluster finials, the back and the side plates are missing. Since it was purchased from a London dealer, the Museum joiner Mr. G .M. Stark, has put it in working order. A Longcase Grandfather Clock by Wm.Holland   brings the number of these clocks by Chester makers to four, the others being by  Thos.Fletcher,  Gabriel Smith and Cawley. Holland was active in Chester between 1814 and 1818. The clock is of yellow pine with a veneer of Spanish Mahogany and an ebony and holly inlay. The face is painted with birds, seashells and sprays. The Third  acquisition is a Silver Watch made in 1794 by Robert Fetcher. In the case are three advertisements , put in when the watch was sent for repair. T.Moreland, Northgate  Street,(1845), Paul Price, Northgate Street(1846) and Lowe and Sons, Bridge Street Row


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Jul 08 2016


scuffle! scuffle!–in the silence of the night
a cockroach was searching for food with his bride
and his friends and their kids, then on comes the light!…
scuffle! scuffle! scuffle!  for somewhere to hide.
into the bread bin, or underneath the cheese;
over the bacon, like steeplechase rider,
round cartons of spices and packets of peas,
the cockroach fell into a jar of sweet cider.
anxious moments; trying to climb up the side
but dripping, slipping, and swallowing more
the cockroach got so drunk he lost all his pride
rolled on his back and used his leg for an oar.
he saw pink elephants as big as a house
jousted with robins, slaughtered a mouse
cared nothing for walls down which he would slip
a drunken skipper of a drunken ship.
i picked up the cider, and poured me a glass.
out fell the cockroach (three sheets to the wind,
unknowing, uncaring and helpless, alas!),
he floated in cider for me to find.
when i saw the cockroach i moved with disgust
threw it to the floor, killed it on the spot.
the moral of this story is clear, i trust?
a cockroach gets TROD ON! sober or not.
so, to her offspring, told his poor widowed spouse;
wife of the drunken brown overgrown louse.


Jul 07 2016


Beyond  the following fragmentary note, I have found nothing respecting this local clockmaker. His name does not appear in the Register of Frodsham  Parish, in the Freemen Rolls of Chester, and in the printed  indexes of Wills proved at Chester. The surname is quite a common one in the county. In is probable that the inscription on the sundial at Poole Hall in Wirral relates to a relative of Daniel-it is as follows ” Jno.Seddon, Frodsham, 1723. This sundial at Poole was a work of art, the gnomon, composed of  a griffin of wyvern conventionalized, was stolen between 1895  and September 1902. There is a tombstone in the yard of the dissenting chapel at Hill Cliffe near Warrington, with the inscription in capital letters ” Elizabeth Seddon wife of Joshua Seddon .1769


Jul 05 2016




“the face of the moment

ticking away

upon the mantlepiece

portioned the day

into twenty four hours

dark, light, and grey


tho’ time passes slowly

passing the buck

with each passing minute

never gets stuck,

for ticking is living, and so he ‘tuck’.


so for hours, and yours and everyone’s time

he faithfully measured,

patience sublime,

with semaphore signals;

essence of mime.


a mouse in the corner

furry and brown

looked up at the clock

whose hands ran round.

he ran up the clock

the clock ran down…..


and stopped!!!


i wound him up again, for the wound was slight.

it needed winding, he was winded; i wound.

it restarted ticking, and ‘tuck’ all the night

and put it in mourning, for day came around

in the clock’s circle: dark — grey and now—light.”











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May 04 2016


In 1835, James gave a detailed account of what had become his annual  summer pilgrimage to the Carter country in the Fylde. This was by coach and on foot, though later varied by train journeys, the railway having reached Warrington in this year. He visited Preston, Forton , Garstang, Blackpool, Knott End and Pilling, attending the churches and noting the sermons. James Carter died on the 18th February 1848 at the age of 67, there being no information as to the cause of death. His will, held in the Lancashire Record Office, Preston, and dated 1829, showed that the value of his estate was under £1,500, which seems a low figure. Three trustees, one being his wife, were appointed to manage the estate for the benefit of the widow. On her death or remarriage, the money was to be divided among the children. When Margaret Carter died, the estate was wound up and distributed. Margaret was an excellent business woman and the family business continued. In addition, she turned one of the shops into a glass and china business, the first such shop in Warrington.




Apr 05 2016


There is no journal entry for the ten years that James spent in London beyond the birth of his first four children, James , John , Joseph and Mary , who were baptised at St Lukes. Then in 1815, Uncle George wanted to retire ( he died in 1828), and James Carter came back to Warrington to carry on the business -” took stock at valuation, amount about £240.00. ” He was to prosper at 24 Bridge Street, buying up the adjoining houses and other property and laying out money on mortgages. Six further children were to be born in Warrington and baptised at Bank Street Wesleyan Chapel, at which Jamed was a pillar all his later life. Afterwards,  they were re-baptised and registered at the Old Church. Much of his journal material relates to his personal business, his children and the church activities.


Feb 02 2016


James continued to work for Uncle George and started his visits to ( my relations in the Fylde). In 1802 his mother died ” Bot a grave on the North side of the Old Church and put a headstone- Aged  57 years, A Good Mother “. In 1805 another Watch and Grandfather Clock maker uncle, William Birchall , came down from London and I ” promised to go up “. This he did in August 1805, lodging with and working for his uncle at Pear Lane, St. Lukes. In the spring of the next year he bought a house and business at 9, Norman Street, paying £20.00 for stock and goodwill. This done, the next month ” Came down to Warringon and was married to Margaret Simcock of Prescot at St.Helens. My wife was born in Prescot on January 21 st. 1785 ” His wife almost certainly came from a clock family and there was a watch an grandfather clock maker of the same name in Warrington but the earliest Prescot directory was not published till 1820. After introducing his new bride to the Carter relations , they returned to London.


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