May 23 2017

The Vicissutudes of a Cheshire Clock

Chester, from time immemorial, has been a great centre for the making of clocks. To possess one, of what are now called Grandfather Clocks, was the highest aim of many a thrifty couple about to begin the battle of life. In every village and hamlet of rural Cheshire, these clocks are to be found and are mostly prized heirlooms that have descended for father to son. There is a sterling nobility  and genuine worth in an old Cheshire clock. One such clock is ” Gabl Smith of Chester ” This clock has stood out of its native county and out of its rural elements, for thirty years yet is still reflecting honour on Gabriel Smith. For forty years this old clock stood in an old house, the woodwork of which was mainly old ship timber, by the bridge in Great Neston. The clock’s traditional history before that is that is was bought in Neston at the sale of one William Mathews.

While this old clock stood in Neston, it was more than ordinarily useful. The Denwall collieries of the Stanley’s were then in full operation and by the wayfarers and the traffic managers that passed to and fro, many an anxious glance, either through the window or the open door, was cast on this old grandfather clock


May 19 2017

Lawrence Earnshaw an Exrtraordinary Cheshire Man (part 6)

All of the complicated calculations,  as well as the execution of this great work, were performed by Earnshaw himself, and it appears to have been his last great project, and upon which he declared to Mr. Samuel Hadfield of Manchester, his thoughts had been intensely employed for seven years and from which he had never wandered or ceased to ruminate except during the hours of sleep. He said he could not accomplish his object for want of money and Mr. Hadfield, who had been brought up near Mottram, asked him how much he needed. When his reply was two guineas, they were immediately given. Afterwards three guineas more were advanced and a Mr. Miles Dixon, a literary gentleman, made a journey for the sole purpose of seeing the clock and having some conversation with Earnshaw, he assisted him with a little more money and a few other friends did the same. It is humiliating to think , however,  that for seven years of intense study and labour, the greatest genius the  county of Chester ever produced, was only rewarded with £150.00 for the skill, time,  labour and money devoted to the perfecting of an astronomical clock, which still commands the admiration of men of science. Previous to his death, Earnshaw  became lame and for many years was under the necessity of using crutches, but his mind continued to the last, vigorous and strong.


May 04 2017

Lawrence Earnshaw An Extraordinary Cheshire Man(Part Five)

Several of the clocks made by Earnshaw  are still to be found in Stalybridge, Mossley, and the Mottram district. The works are of brass and are very heavy, the dials are of the same metal, and are elaborately chased with brass fretwork at the corners. In Those at Stalybridge, the wheels and other parts are very strong and the planetary system seems to be represented , the minutes, hours,  days and months  and very curiously contrived , while the sun, moon and stars  are well brought to view according to their proper times and seasons. The clocks have generally half-circular brass plates in the middle of the dials and in one at Stalybridge the following letters are well engraved ” Lorence Earnshaw, Mottram ” but others are spelt in accordance with the more modern rules of orthography. He carried his theory and practice in that direction so far as to become the inventor of a very curious   astronomical and  geographical clock containing both the celestial and terrestrial globe to which the different movements were given representing  the annual and diurnal motions of the earth, the position of the moon and stars, the sun’s place in the ecliptic etc. with the greatest exactness. It is said that he made four of these remarkable machines and one of them, unusually  ornamental, was sold to the Earl of Bute for £150.00 and afterwards became the property of Lord Lonsdale.

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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