Clock Museum

English Turret Clock Makers

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I have listed on this page informtion about the major English Turret Clock makers taken from sources referenced at the end of each piece.

J.W Benson Ltd
The firm of J.W.Benson was established in 1749, but there seems little informatin on its history in published sources. Whatever its origins, the firm gained recognition as one of the leading nineteenth century makers of turret clocks - chiefly dating from 1860 onwards. The firm continued in business well into the twentieth century. (Ref:- James W Benson of Ludgate Hill - Turret Clock Makers by Mike Bundock and Chris McKay ISBN No 0-9538977-7-X) 

G&F Cope, Nottingham
George and Francis Cope established their factory in Nottingham in 1845. As innovative manufacturers, the firm produced clocks for the Admiralty as well as fine tower clocks and chimes. They became part of the Smith of Derby family in 1984. (Ref:- Smiths of Derby Website )

Gillett & Co, Croydon (Incl. Gillett & Bland, Gillett & Johnson)
The business was established in 1844 by William Gillett and at first, was devoted entirely to the manufacture of small clocks. A few years later he was joined by Charles Bland and the making of Turret Clocks was started for which they have a worldwide reputation. In 1877, Arthur Johnston became a partner and the business was further extended to include a Bell Foundry. It was his son, Cyril Johnston who perfected the art of tuning and who made the name of Gillett & Johnston synonomous with bells and carillons throughout the world. In 1960 the firm was acquired by Cyril Coombes who continued to build up the clock side of the business, until his untimely death in 1972. Since then his son, Stephen Coombes has concentrated on consolidating and modernising the business. (Ref:- Gillett & Johnson Website )

J.B. Joyce & Co.
The origins of J B Joyce can be traced back to 1690. Based in Whitchurch, Shropshire since 1834 they remained an independent family business until 1965 when they joined the Smith group of companies.
Throughout their illustrious history they have been responsible for some of the worlds most iconic timepieces (Ref:- Smiths of Derby Website )

John Moore & sons, Clerkenwell.
The company of John Moore and Sons was founded around 1790 and was known as Handley and Moore; these two were apprentices of Thwaites. The company ran for almost 100 years and during this time they were prolific makers of an endless varierty of clocks. Not only did the ocmpany produce clocks but also wind dials and weather vanes. In 1899 the death of Henry James Moore brought the company to an end. (Ref:- John Moore and Sons of Clerkenwell - Turret Clock Makers by Chris McKay ISBN No 0-9538977-4-5)

W Potts & Sons Ltd, Leeds
William Potts set up his company in Pudsey in 1835 as a domestic clock maker. William soon moved to Leeds recognising the huge demand for clocks on public buildings, churches and railway stations. The company joined the Smith of Derby Group in 1933. (Ref:- Smiths of Derby Website )

John Smith & Sons, Derby
John Smith started as an apprentice to John Whitehurst III in 1829, and began his own business in 1856. The new company flourished during the industrial revolution and grew to what is now Smith of Derby Group Ltd, the largest and we believe oldest trading tower clock company. (Ref:- Smiths of Derby Website )

Thwaites and Reed, Clerkenwell, London
Thwaites & Reed was established in 1740 as manufacturing clockmakers, with antecedents from 1610. The Great Clock which everyone calls Big Ben was looked after by a team of up to 8 expert clockmakers from Thwaites & Reed for over 30 years.
John Thwaites, one of many Thwaites with that name, was a clockmaker at the beginning of the 17th century and from this extended family Aynsworth Thwaites founded the business now known as Thwaites & Reed in Rosoman Street, Clerkenwell, London in 1740, and continued there until 1780. The company's earliest recorded commission and still in use, was a turret clock for Horseguards Parade made in 1740 but not finished until 1768. The complexity of the Horseguards clock is the result of many previous years clockmaking experience but older work has not been identified. Aynsworth was succeeded by John Thwaites, who was head of the firm from 1780 to 1816. In 1816, Thwaites partnered with George Jeremiah Reed, and the firm became Thwaites & Reed. John Thwaite remained at the firm's head until 1842.
In 1969 the family firm brought in outsiders to manage its business culminating in the British Government acquiring control of the business in 1978, only to return it to private ownership two years later after it had been modernised with substantial government investment. (Ref:- Thwaites and Reed Website )

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