Clockmaking

Bates clock, late 18th Century
For nearly four centuries Cuckfield was renowned as a centre for clockmaking and repairs with the earliest records of this profession mentioned in the 1627 diary of The Rev. Thomas Vicars of Holy Trinity Church.  At various dates from 1627 he records work associated with the church clock and, in 1667, he noted that the church clock was replaced by one commissioned from Isaac Leney of Cuckfield. 

In 1702 John Gurre was paid £3.10s for converting the church clock from original verge escapement to “a pendle” (pendulum).  John Green is recorded as being paid 5s for looking after Isaac Leney’s clock, and for making a lantern clock sold to local gentleman, Sir Charles Peel.

For most of the 18th Century the Gatland family were the prominent clockmakers of Cuckfield.    John Gatland (1683-1769), Edward Gatland (1715-1779) and Philip Gatland (1749-1788).  Edward, John’s son, is Cuckfield’s most renowned clockmaker and a fine example of his clock in a lacquered finished longcase can be seen in the museum.  

A contemporary of Philip Gatland, Walter Smith, also worked in Cuckfield from 1773-1791. A pendulum clock by Walter Smith is also on display.

From the late 18th Century to the 1930s the Bates family were the predominant clockmakers in Cuckfield.

Bates Family outside their shop

 

Edward Bates (1767-1845) established his business in Cuckfield in 1790 making clocks and banjo type barometers with William Bates (1816-1896) continuing the family business. A long case movement clock by William can be seen in the museum.

Hubert Bates (1865-1945), grandson of Edward continued with the family business until the 1930s, at which time the business was taken over by clock and watch repairer Claude Baker who ran it for some 20 years.

From the 1950s to the late 1990s clock and watch repairs were continued by Charles “Fluff” Newnham, who became Cuckfield’s last repairer of clocks and watches working from premises, now a dental practice, close to the Old Vicarage.  

 

 

If you are interested in this or any other Cuckfield topics, why not visit us in the museum. Click here to see our opening hours.

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