March 26, 2019 News


Once again its been a busy few weeks both in our Derby works and across our various sites in the UK. Here’s just a few things we have been doing.

Health and Safety

A big part of this company is our continual and insistent approach to our team wellbeing and safety.

We have developed a new approach to the safe access to specific pillar clocks for example, revising our method to secure ladders and our working at height approach. We have also developed a simple system to communicate changes to Health & Safety practices, or changes to product or process in the company called ALERT.

Customer Feedback

Victoria College, St Helier, Jersey

A young man, we think he is 18, lives on the island and is a self-taught clock enthusiast, carrying out some simple repairs and maintenance on various clocks on the island.  He contacted us in October 2017 and said that he knew that the College clock needed attention but it was a bigger job than he could handle and so he asked if we could have a look at it.

Paul Kilburn visited the site on his next journey and in July 2018 then Matthew Smith join Paul to complete the work, converting a master/slave system to a T200 + PIC. The work was time critical due to the college summer holidays.  Julie in planning managed to make Paul and Matthew available to meet the tight timeline and the college was delighted with the finished work. The college wrote in saying…

“Dear Julie,

 We are delighted with the work on our clock over the summer holidays and to hear the lovely pendulum movement resonate once again in our building.  In order to maintain the clocks in our building going forward, we would like to set up the maintenance contract with you as quoted in your original estimate.  

Kind regards Carolyn”

Newark Station Clock

“Dear Alan,

I just wanted to say a huge thank you for the works you have carried out to the heritage clock at Newark. It looks fantastic and has made our MD very happy indeed.

Kind Regards, LNER Rail”  

St Cuthbert’s Church, Bedlington

“We are very pleased with the work Smith of Derby have completed to our Church Clock. You installed a pendulum regulator and the clock is very accurate now. We would like to say that Mike Tomlinson did a wonderful job in a very difficult church tower. He was very professional and very helpful.

Chris Jenkins”

The Dairy Farm, Neenton

“I have just taken a call from a very happy customer. Mike Robson who owns the site above. He was delighted with the work carried out by Brian Parry and Aaran Daniel.  He recognised the fact that Brian was really poorly but put in a good effort. Mike also mentioned that the vans were very clean, and the team were well presented and very polite.

Thanks, Martin.”

International Time

Our wonderful clock on the Customs House on the Bund in Shanghai was recently surveyed by Andy Burdon and Brian Parry. The clock tower offers views over the entire Bund and Shanghai city centre. It has four faces, each made up of more than 100 pieces of glass. The diameter of each is 5.3 metres, each with 72 automatic lamps. Created by JB Joyce & Co. in 1927 and to this day it remains the largest clock in Asia.

Customs House, Shanghai

National Apprentice Week

The 4th – 8th of March was National Apprentice Week, something we are very passionate about as we have had a strong affiliation with the apprenticeship programme since the company began.

The team have been busy restoring Derby’s historic Harrison clock for installation in the new Museum of Making (at the Silk Mill in Derby) when it re-opens to the public in 2020.

The Harrison turret clock was first installed at Derby Guildhall in 1842. Its movement was designed by clockmaker, James Harrison of Hull (1792-1875), the great-grandnephew of John (Longitude) Harrison (1693-1776) who famously invented the marine chronometer to calculate longitude at sea. The clock was retired from the Guildhall in 1976 and moved to the former Industrial Museum as a nonworking exhibit where it later went into storage. Its fortunes changed with the current development of Derby Museums and the clock is now undergoing conservation and restoration with our team. You will have seen representatives of the museum in the works from time to time recently watching our progress and using the project to publicise their own museum development.

The clock is an unusual example of its type as a hybrid, with all the hallmarks of James Harrison, but featuring 19th century workings from ourselves, including a Smith of Derby nameplate.

Tony Butler, Executive Director of Derby Museums commented:

“This beautiful clock, previously maintained by Smith of Derby while in the Guildhall all those years ago, will now sit proudly on the ground floor of the new Museum of Making, working for the first time in over 40 years. 

This project will not only restore the clock to the City but will also provide opportunities for local makers to exchange knowledge and share skills along the way.”

Our team of apprentices, working alongside turret clock and Harrison specialist Chris McKay, the project is inspiring and training a new generation of clockmakers in restoration and conservation. Chris commented:

“Conservation efforts are starting to come in for turret clock work and I am pleased that Smith of Derby is recognising this and investing in young people. It has been very encouraging to see our apprentices developing a love for this old mechanism. We look forward to getting the clock back into the Museum and seeing it ticking again”

Smith of Derby apprentices working with clock advisor Chris McKay on the Harrison Clock.

Our own Sam Schoonderwoerd, current Smith of Derby apprenticeship, said:

“The apprentices have been given a lead role in this project and it’s been great for us to work together and learn from each other to build our experience and knowledge on the job. It’s really rewarding to know that we’ve got the clock to where it is now and we’re all looking forward to seeing it returned to the Museum. To say that we’ve done that to family and friends – I think they’ll be quite impressed.”

Restoration work on the Harrison clock is near completion and the clock is expected to return to the Museum of Making in working condition once the interior fit-out of the building has been completed.

Our Time Team 

We are delighted to be working with the University of Derby as part of their Driven Programme, a scheme offering internships to students at the University to help them gain vital experience. We are delighted to welcome Silvia Marabelli, a marketing graduate from the University of Derby. Silvia will be with us for the next month working with the marketing team at Smith of Derby.


About the author

Sam Welton: