Apr 26 2017

Lawrence Earnshaw an Extraordinary Cheshire Man(part four)

Earnshaw was acquainted with the celebrated Mr.Brindley, and while the latter was conducting the Duke of Bridgewater’s great canal works, near Manchester, they sometimes met and it is said that so engrossed were their minds with the various schemes that they had on hand that the two congenial spirits did not soon separate

The countenance of Earnshaw was far from betokening quick parts at a first view, it rather conveyed an idea of stupidity but when he was animated by conversation, his features brightened up and having a good flow of words, he could explain the subject he was speaking of in the provincial phraseology and dialect of his native place, so as to be clearly understood. One of his biographers says it was curious to observe ” What a brightening -what animation and fire-what difference of features appeared in him, when roused up by conversations on subjects connected with the bent of his great genious.” He had a taste for the fine arts,read and understood Uuclid, but above all, his forte lay in mechanics.


Apr 15 2017

Robert Earnshaw an Extraordinary Cheshire Man(Part Three)

By The force of his natural abilities and the little instruction he could obtain, he  made himself one of the most universal mechanics the country has produced and it seems really strange Earnshaw should have lived and died so poor, when we consider the fortunes that were  afterwards made by men who invented machinery far from equal to what was invented by Earnshaw. He was possessed of an extraordinary degree of sobriety, for, according to Dr.Aiken, he did not drink a glass of ale for years after he was grown to manhood, and it is probable that his poverty was caused by his wife and family and his fear of doing  anything with his inventions  that would tend or so he thought, to take the  bread from the mouths of the poor.

In 1753 he invented a machine to open and reel cotton at the same operation, which he showed to his neighbours and then destroyed it through the generous apprenhension that it would injure the working people. A few years later, Arkwright, Crompton and others succeeded in working out ideas that  had crossed the brain Of Earnshaw, but he refused to work them out to the practical results that they were capable of. Some men blame him for acting as he did, but after all, his actions were based upon a purely benevolent feeling, which did credit to his heart, if not his judgement. He contrived an ingenious, though not elaborate, piece of machinery to raise water from a coal mine at the Hague, Mottram, but the mine did not prove worth the expense, or Earnshaw would have received some share of the profits for erecting the engine.


Apr 03 2017

Lawrence Earnshaw an Extraordinary Cheshire Man(Part Two)

Whenever it was known that the young clock mender was coming, not one of the family would be absent, for his conversation was of itself a treat which non of them liked to be deprived of. While he worked he talked and the family stood in a group listening to his quaint local language and if he came one day it was generally the next before he was allowed to leave. As he grew older he was unfortunately troubled with a sick wife, who was confined to her bed for many years and his family being expensive, poor Lawrence did not enjoy many of the blessings of life. He was a worker in wood as well as in metal and he was so far from what is termed a clock maker at present that he constructed both the inside movements and the outside case but it is said that he was not a neat workman.

He became  an engraver, painter and gilder, he could stain glass and foil mirrors, was a whitesmith, blacksmith, coppersmith, gunsmith, bell- founder and coffin maker, made and erected sun-dials, mended violins, repaired,  tuned, played upon and taught others to perform on harpsicord and virginals. He could have taken wool from the sheep’s back, manufactured it into cloth, made the cloth into clothes  for wearing,  and constructed every instrument  for the clipping,  carding, spinning, reeling, weaving, fulling, dressing, and making up wool for wear with his own hands.


Mar 31 2017

Lawrence Earnshaw an Extraordinary Cheshire Man (Part One)

Several natives of Mottram have distinguished themselves in the arts and sciences. The most remarkable was Lawrence Earnshaw , who was born early in the 18th century, in a house on Mottram Moor, which is pointed out by the old folks with veneration.

At an early age, he was apprenticed for seven years to Mr.Samuel Kynder,  woollen manufacturer, Hyde-Green, Stayley.  He afterwards served  four years to a tailor, but as neither of these employments suited the bent of his genius, he engaged with a Mr. Shepley of Stockport, as a clock maker and served with him for one month only.

His rudiments of knowledge in the latter profession were obtained under great disadvantages, for it is related that when young, he was so delighted with the mechanism of clocks, that he embraced every  opportunity of examining their movements. It is even said that so great was his desire to examine such works, that he used to stay away from church under some pretence or other and as soon as the family were gone, he hastened to disjoint the various parts of the house clock. Having to some extent satisfied his curiosity, he quickly rejoined the parts and placed the clock in its proper position before the family returned from their devotions. This exercise served to develop his mechanical powers and set him to plan very trifling but ingenious machinery.

Some of his friends ridiculed his efforts but others encouraged him as far a they could, by allowing him to clean their clocks , which he willingly did gratuitously.

Feeling anxious  to thoroughly learn the business he entered into engagement with Mr. Shepley, as previously stated .

In a communication which appeared in No.57 of the Gentlman’s Magazine, the writer Mr.J.Holt of Walton, near Liverpool, stated that he had a friend who possessed an old family clock which often needed repairing and Lawrence was in the habit of attending to it.


Mar 21 2017

The Callcott Family, Makers of Antique Grandfather Clocks in Cheshire (Conclusion)e

Arthur Drummond Callcott will be remembered by older Malpas residents and in the  ” Whitchurch Herald ” for 3rd of January 1931, he appears in a feature on the oldest people in the area. Of him, the article says the he was ” The oldest founder member  of the Jubilee Hall and having a great record of public service. Not many years ago he made a particularly fine Grandfather Clock (case and all), which graces the hall of one of the Malpas doctors ”

The Callcott shop eventually moved from Old Hall Street to High Street where it has been re-fronted and now serves as an office for  the Nationwide Building Society. Arthur Drummond Callcot appears to have remained a bachelor and from him, the business passed to the family of his sister, who married a Dutton. The late Cecil Dutton, last of the line to work in Malpas, died in the 1950s.


Mar 17 2017

The Callcott Family, Makers of Antique Grandfather Clocks in Cheshire (Part Three)

However, some members of the family were moving around. Thomas Wallcott  first appears in Well Street, Malpas in a directory of 1822/3. Afterwards he appears in directories from 1828 and 1834 as a watch and grandfatherclock maker in Old Hall Street, Malpas.  However, clockmakers have a habit of scratching clean marks  on clocks that they attend to and this leads on to a Samuel Callcott who on the 16th of  May 1866 cleaned a  Joyce clock which I have examined. Then again, I found another scratch mark by Samuel in 1874 in a Whitchurch  grandfather clock by George Bradshaw.

Arthur Drummond Callcott first appears  in the 1871 census return for Malpas. The term ” apparently ” is used at it has been generally assumed that he was the son of the Arthur Callcott who appears in the 1851 census as a son of  Thomas ( see family tree). However further examination of the Census returns suggests that  Arthur Drummond Callcott was the son of  Thomas’ daughter  Sarah and was born in Liverpool as Arthur Wignall and was therefore the first Arthur’s nephew. It seems that he probably changed his name to Callcott when he took over the business from his uncle. Therefore,  the Arthur born in about  1812 (son of Thomas) was probably the last actual Callcott to own the business


Mar 15 2017

The Callcott Family,Makers of Antique Grandfather Clocks in Cheshire (Part Two)

John two married an Ann Batho in Wem in 1801 and it was this family  which in 1809 held the Raven Public House in Watergate Street, Whitchurch. He also made fine  Grandfather Clocks and some time ago, I was lucky enough to find and photograph one. This is also an oak cased white dial grandfather clock but without moonwork. It has a false plate indicating the dial was made by Finnemore and Son which  would give a date between 1828 and 1835,and the whole of the clock is indicative of this date. This case again shows refined cabinet work and restrained use of stringing and inlay.

Another member of the family, John three could possibly be the son of John two. He is recorded as being a  grandfather clock maker living in Prees and he made a sundial for St. Chad’s. He had married Ann Hadley in 1825  and had three daughters. From 1832 to 1850 the directories recorded a Callcott shop in Wem, High Street . John Callcott two at the age of 75, would have died in 1852, so this could have been his shop, or possibly shared with John three. However the Whitchurch directory gives a John Callcott of having a business in the High Street from 1840 until 1851, so the two shops were running together for a period but more research is needed to clarify the situation


Mar 02 2017

The Callcott Family, Makers of Antique Grandfather Clocks in Cheshire (Part one)

The old established Callcott family of grandfather clock makers, who traded in Wem, Whitcurch and Malpas, had roots in the business stretching back nearly as far as those of the Joyce family, whose business still continues in Whitchurch.

To trace the family back takes us  to 1719 in Wem. At this time the son of John and Lydia Callcott, was baptised Richard at Edstaston. Later Richard married a  local girl from Wem and had a family of a boy and a girl. Richard attended to the church clock at St.Chads, Prees, for seventeen years from 1746.

Here, however, it starts to get more involved as this was just one side of a local family and Richard had a nephew, John Callcott, who was also working in the family business. At one time, I had a white faced grandfather clock with moon phases by this man.

John Callcott was the son of Arthur and Jane  and was born in 1753. He married a Sarah Bradley and a year later his son was born. This child was baptised John on the 21st. of  September 1777 and later was to take over his father’s business. Old John Callcott died in his 78th.year after a long illness. The  ” Salopian Journal ” of the time records  in 1830, that he was a ” Mechanic of more than ordinary class “. Certainly his grandfather clocks are valued today, the workmanship of movement and case being of high order.


Feb 10 2017


At first the government were against this idea  but then for a payment of one guinea a year as a licence fee, they allowed it. This was the first wireless licence. He became very involved with the development of wireless, helping to form the Wireless Society, of which he was elected Chairman.

On April 21st 1923, while broadcasting from Savoy Hill, he encouraged his listeners to put their clocks to the right time. He  invited them to set their watches and then set their clocks from their watches. He gave the time by counting the last five seconds from 9.55 to 10 o’clock on his watch, which he had previously set close to Greenwich mean time, so the pips were introduced as a way the announcers  could give the listeners an accurate time check This was done by a land link from Greenwich and the broadcasting station and the six pips as we know them, was made available to the country. The method of time signalling by the six pips is now almost universal and every time signals noted by horologists , should remind them of the of the man whose business life was entirely spent in encouraging people to appreciate correct time keeping.


Jan 29 2017

The Cottage by John & Alec

it sounds strange, does it not,
that a cottage could be lonely?
harken, while i set the plot
to this sad tale but true.
the grip of winter, tight as death
closed around its walls
and froze them with its icy breath.
a chilling tale, but true.
its wooden ribs of sturdy oak
stood well against the strain.
tho’ they shivered, not one broke.
a stirring tale, but true.
once, when the storm was at its height
a stranger came inside.
he blessed the place and slept the night.
a moving tale, but true.
next day the stranger left at dawn
and took his company.
he left the cottage more forlorn.
a hopeless tale, but true.
when next we see this lonely spot
it’s in the grip of spring.
brighter shades to paint the plot
colourful tale, but true.
a diamond on a green baize table
it used to be the pond.
of what is spring not capable?
a sparkling tale but true.
but tho’ spring brings new hope for most
the cottage knew the worst.
it gained from spring less than it lost.
a sorry tale, but true.
with wet walls gone green with moss,
toadstools in the kitchen.
the ruined cottage grieved its loss.
a fungal tale, but true.
the pond was choked with glass green weed
(the diamond lost its sparkle)
bushes, brambles, noxious breed.
a jungle tale, but true.
decayed, decrepit, disrepair,
distraught, disused, discouraged,
dismal,disparaged, deep despair.
disastrous tale, but true.
the cottage viewed with rheumy eyes
its man forsaken limbo.
in this tale the cottage cries.
a tearful tale, but true.
and then! a voice! a laugh! a cry!
those long forgotten sounds.
the cottage sighed a gentle sigh.
well, stranger tales are true!
for there, standing at the door
was the stranger, wife and children
they went inside to explore.
a happy tale, but true.
the stranger showed them all around.
They loved the place at once.
he showed them where he slept, so sound.
the stranger’s tale was true.
the cottage rooms were filled with laughter,
and no one seemed to notice
joyful tears fall from the rafter.
a magic tale for you….