The clock maker

Switzerland is noted for the quality of its clocks, but it was in the English Lake District that I found another craftsman to film. It was after completing my film on the Charcoal Burners - the Allonbys, that I asked Bill Allonby if I could film him in his workshop. He was a Clock Maker.

The Allonby family lived in Ulverston with Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy fame as their neighbour. Bill Allonby's workshop was in an urban area in the north of England and it was there that I assembled my 'Film Unit'. Joining me on this, probably my last project, was Professor Alan Smith of Salford University, he directed the film. He had written a number of books about clocks and offered to help me. Ron Challen, ex bank manager and artist completed the team.

Bill Allonby had a 'Hugh Knight' clock movement to be overhauled and I was fortunate to be able to record the skill of this Master Craftsman. I could not help but remember Charlie Chaplin when he took part in a film as a clock maker; Charlie took the works apart, shook his head, then took the customer's hat and swept all the parts of the clock into it. He did not have a clue how to repair it.

Bill Allonby - Clock Maker

Like Charlie, Bill stripped the clock movement down in a bewildering assortment of pieces. He cleaned each part in turn, made new parts where necessary and restored the work of Hugh Knight who had first assembled the clock in 1797. it seemed so easy for this skilled craftsman. On the film it shows all the work he does and the clock movement working perfectly once again. Next the mahogany clock case, made by Gillows of Lancaster, was also renovated.

The dial of the clock needed attention and this required the skills of Mrs Tennant an artist and an expert in restoring the dials of clocks. The dial had been made originally by a Mr Wilson of Birmingham in 1798. Between them these two people had restored a grandfather clock to its original condition.

The first public showing of this film was at a craft museum, and there was a standing ovation when the film finished.