Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Clocks and time pieces collected over the years

It’s that time of year again where the clocks will have to be moved back for the winter months. I have never counted up how many clocks I move each spring and autumn as I only did the ones I can see and are in regular use.

However this year is different as we have moved house, a lot smaller house, a house that responds when you put the heating on without draining ya wallet. All those clocks that have been hiding in the far front rooms and in the spare bedrooms are all lined up and on show, most are working or will work if they had a new battery, and just the odd one kept is just for looks even though it don’t work.

We have one, taking the two extremes, which was bought for us a few months ago, an alarm clock which projects the time onto the bedroom ceiling in big red letters, at 11.59 pm. it suddenly changes to 12.01 am, whereas the older digital one will go from 11.59 to 00.01 at midnight and does not display am or pm. (but ya can guess that by how light or dark it is).

The other extreme clock we had was an old four foot square face cricket ground clock, an outdoor clock with its own weather protection and runs off mains electric.

It was acquired when we went to clear on old shed on a cricket ground in town, which was in the way of the building of a new pavilion, and had to be moved pronto. We had the idea of mounting it on the flat roofed old dairy across the yard, but never got round to it, it needed anchoring down and raw plugging to the concrete top to the dairy, so it was always housed in the building behind it in the picture. It was eventually sold on to a chap who ran and owned a bus station in the Wolverhampton/Birmingham area, he wanted it on his office roof in a prominent place where all who worked for him could see to synchronise their time pieces to his time.

        I have still not counted them all, we have everything in between the two examples above, carriage clocks large and small, two grandfather clocks that father made after he retired in the 1980’s, he made four in all, and kitchen clocks. We have an outdoor clock that hangs on a bracket that gives you a different  bird song at every hour, there being a picture of twelve popular wild birds round the face, but I’m dammed if I can tell the difference between one scratchy bird songs one from the other. On the reverse of that clock is the temperature gauge, the biggest drawback with that clock is that you cannot see both sides at once, you do need to know how frosty it is first thing in a winters morning, and see the time during the rest of the day.

It’s only the two grandfather clocks that need winding every week, and a mantle shelf clock also, but that does not have the correct key for winding it up. We had at one time couple of old Smiths alarm clocks, and they needed winding every night, they had a very loud tick, and when the alarm went off a hammer waived ferociously between two bells on the top of the clock. All the other clocks are battery powered, I keep a stock of various small batteries about just for that job as not many weeks go by when one or other of them run out of power.

When we were at Church Farm we had the church clock looking down on us for twenty five or more years, it chimed every quarter hour and could hear it right through the night, we got so used to it and took it for granted, then when we moved to the Yews (for over thirty years) we were out of site of the clock face but we could still hear the chimes that was what prompted us to put up the yard clock. 

It was an old medium sized out door clock which we hung in the gable of a pitching door on the front of the old range of cowsheds, when the cowsheds became redundant the architects drew up plans and designed them into barn conversion houses, with this clock still in place they called it a clock tower. By this time Matt and his mates had used it as target practice with their air guns, it now had a finger missing and some holes in the face, it had not been a reliable clock from the day we put it up but it looked good even with its battered appearance.

This is the only picture of the yard clock top right in this picture that I can find.

With time being shown on bottom of the computer screen as I write, the time is shown on the cooker as we cook, time shown on the mobile phone as we talk and text.
In some of the old draws that got emptied out there was old wrist watches, winders and battery ones, an old pocket watch, you know the type ya kept in ya waist coat pocket with a gold coloured chain across ya chest to a tee that anchored it to the nearest button hole, none of these are working.

So eventually we will be culling and thinning out some of these unused clocks, I took one old kitchen clock into an open fronted cart shed up in the stack yard, I had been so used to picking me yed up and just looking at the time from the church clock. It lasted the summer, then when winter came and the damp foggy weather came along, the panel that formed the face behind the glass/perspex front buckled and stopped the fingers, when I opened it, it was made of cardboard and had swollen with the damp.

In the days of the steam trains, when working in the far fields alongside the main Stafford to Norton Bridge railway lines, we worked to the train times, the fast lines were cleared of traffic at around 3pm, so I was told by the signal man. This was to allow three high speed express steam trains to pass through at full speed, I know one was the Caledonian express, the Royal Scott, and another one all heading North and passed through at 3.15pm or there abouts,  that was the signal for us to round the cows up and take them home with us for milking. 

We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and a mystery.
H G Wells (1866 - 1946)