Lottery funding to help establish national centre for horology


Clock and watchmakers are celebrating a £2.8 million investment of National Lottery funding which will help ensure timepieces continue to be cherished in Britain for years to come.

It was announced on the eve of the switch from British Summer Time to Greenwich Mean Time that the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded the British Horological Institute (BHI) a grant to create a national centre for horology at its base at Upton Hall, near Newark in Nottinghamshire.

The centre, due for opening in 2018, will address the nationwide shortage of horologists by creating new training and workshop facilities in a derelict stable block and glass house, allowing the BHI to double the number of students it trains a year.

HLF has earmarked £2,852,600 for the project including a development grant of £160,300, which the BHI will use to produce a fully costed proposal, apply for planning permission and submit a second round application, when the full grant amount will be released.

The centre will be open daily and the public will be able to view students at work and visit exhibitions with key pieces from the BHI collection, which includes clocks going back to the 17th century, watches such as the timepiece carried by Captain Scott on his ill-fated expedition to the Antarctic, and the first two speaking clocks.

The historic main building at Upton Hall will also be developed and access to the collection will increase significantly with volunteer support and extended opening hours.

The centre anticipates thousands of visitors annually, including hundreds of schoolchildren for whom special education areas will be set up.

HLF chair Sir Peter Luff said: "From Big Ben's tower and the Liver Building to the pocket watches and timepieces carried by great explorers, clocks and clockmaking have a long and proud history in the UK.

"Even as demand for these traditional skills rises, the number of people trained has gone into steep decline.

"That is why we saw a pressing need for this National Lottery investment which will ensure timepieces are made, serviced, repaired and conserved in this country for many years to come."

Clocks should be put back 60 minutes at 2am on Sunday.