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
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.