I’ve recently completed a restoration and service of a long case clock by Sam Ashton of Bredbury. Whilst working on the clock it became evident that it wasn’t all original and clearly many changes had happened to the clock during its lifetime. This blog post looks at the evidence of the changes.
As you can see from the photographs we have a 3 train, Westminster quarter chiming oak cased clock by Sam Ashton of Bradbury (incorrect spelling of place name). Looms has an entry for Sam Ashton in Bredbury c.1776 – late 1800s
The movement is very nicely made with a deadbeat escapement and maintaining work.
Looking at the lower half of the case you can see that very common crack across the base caused by the drying out of the wood in a modern central heated house. It also looks like the case has been shortened at some point. Even in its current state it measures around 7′ tall.
The painted dial
Although slightly chipped in places, the dial is in very good condition as you can see from the photograph.
The centre depicts a scene of fishing near flat roofed buildings which look like they might be from the Middle East or Northern Africa.
In each corner of the dial there is a painted lady for each of the 4 seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter).
It has a very typical moon image for moon phases.
On one side we have an image of people riding horses. One of the riders is brandishing what looks like a feather duster!
On the other side we have a farmyard scene.
The hands are looking correct for the clock of this age.
Now turning the dial around, my suspicions are aroused a little by the extra plate screwed to the dial (see left hand picture). It was easily removed showing that at some point the dial had different dial pillars which I suspect had mated to a different movement (right hand picture).
Here are some close up pictures showing evidence of old dial mountings which have been removed. Interestingly I didn’t see any evidence of different winding holes on the dial. The holes there don’t look to have been altered and I can’t see where others have been blanked.
Turning my attentions to the inside of the case, you can see that the quality of the workmanship where the eye can’t see isn’t that great. It really looks to me like the case has been modified a little for a different movement.
What more can I say than this is just a fantastic quality movement! However it does have an interesting arrangement for winding. Notice the intermediate offset pinions which almost look like they have been made to match the dial!
The barrels are also positioned quite high up on the plates.
Below shows a picture of the rear of the movement. Again it shows up as a quality movement but it looks German to me. The reason I say this is due to the plate pillars. If this was an English clock they would probably have been riveted to the back plate. Notice that theses are screwed in place which is a very common German style.
There is also an interesting nameplate screwed to the lower part of the rear plate. Who was E.Pike of Manachester in 1914? Manchester is pretty close to Bredbury but this might be a coincidence. My guess is that he was the person who fitted the replacement movement to the dial to create this “marriage”.
The service operation for this clock was fairly straightforward. It needed the centre arbor hole re-bushing on the rear plate and the pivots needed polishing. Other than that it was in good condition and had not being subjected to any nasty bodge repairs earlier in its life.
As for the history of the clock I’d hazard a guess that it came to a clock repairer with its original movement in a poor state of repair potentially in 1913 – 14. The owner was persuaded that an upgrade to a fine new movement was a good improvement. The movement I suspect is German, but likely to have been fitted by E. Pike of Manchester in 1914.
At some point in the life of the clock I suspect the case was shortened so it would fit into a less grand house than it was originally made for.
The fact that this clock is clearly a “marriage” makes it less desirable and valuable to some people, but I still think its a fantastic clock which has had an interesting history.
I’m sure my interpretation of the evidence can be questioned, but if you have any alternative ideas then I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.