Musical Box Restoration
The unusually high quality of the work carried out here speaks for itself. Besides putting all the clocks and musical instruments on display into the most perfect possible condition and maintaining them, we are pleased to accept work from clients all over the world. If you or your friends have such items, large or small, in need of tender loving care and attention, you cannot do better than to ask for our help. We will be pleased to examine them and give an estimate for the necessary work entirely without charge or obligation. You will not find a better service or higher standard of work anywhere.
Just as the beautiful objects that we work with embodied many different skills in their manufacture, we employ a unique team of specialist craftsmen all working under our own rigorous quality control and direction to recreate those skills and to produce the best possible results.
When the business started in London in 1961, we were somewhat surprised to find how little was known about self playing musical instruments, particularly musical boxes, and since then we have pioneered the new and difficult technology needed to put them back into perfect playing order.
In 1971, after many years of development by Cliff Burnett, we published our method of re-pinning music box cylinders. At around the same time, our workshop produced the first good quality replacement combs to be made for musical boxes in modern times. Today, there are still no finer restorers of musical boxes and clocks anywhere in the world.
The Silver Jubilee Clock
In 1977 we were commissioned to design and make an entirely new clock for a special exhibition of British craftsmanship in the Victoria and Albert Museum to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee. We designed and made a timepiece in which the mechanism was completely exposed and formed a unified design pleasing to the eye, thereby becoming an example of a new art form known as functional kinetic art or "Horological Sculpture". This has inspired others and helped to give mechanical horology a new lease of life. The three frames are frost gilded, and there are no horizontal surfaces to gather dust. They are in the form of an inverted “Y”, which once caused a French Judge from Toulouse, who ordered one, to say “Ah, the Eiffel Tower”. More unkindly, we understand that in the trade it is known as “the Y front clock”. Most of the steel parts are made in stainless steel to avoid corrosion, as the mechanism is completely exposed.
The Oriel House Clock
An important example of horological sculpture, or functional kinetic art, designed and built by our founders in 1982 for the marble entrance hall of Oriel House, Connaught Place, Marble Arch This clock keeps time within one second a week, and is certainly one of the most accurate public clocks in London. It incorporates a number of new design features, notably the theoretically perfect suspension spring we made for its pendulum. The massive pendulum, weighing 178 pounds, is intended to overcome “noise” from traffic and underground trains, and the invar pendulum rod, together with its compensation tube, avoids changes in timekeeping due to changes in temperature. The gravity arms for the double three legged gravity escapement, which keep the pendulum swinging, weigh only half an ounce each, and their positioning corrects further faults in the original design first used in the Westminster Clock known as Big Ben. The Westminster clock was intended to keep time within a second a week, and doesn’t. The Oriel House Clock does.
When the Oriel House Clock was first commissioned, it had to fit into an uncomfortable space left between two marble pillars, a space eight feet high and just sixteen inches wide. This necessitated a vertical gear train, originally controlling the time indicated by three dials above the clock. The same shaft that drove the dials was also used to transmit the motive force to the clock mechanism from the driving weight concealed behind one of the pillars. The clock is weight driven, but the weight is electrically re-wound about once an hour. The clock mechanism is supported on a fabricated steel platform which also supports the heavy pendulum. The mechanism can be removed for periodic servicing, but the pendulum is intended to remain permanently in place so that once it is perfectly regulated the regulation is not disturbed.
In 2003, after the office complex including Oriel House changed hands, by order of the Directors the marble entrance hall was re-designed with the clock as a central feature, and we were commissioned to move it to its new position. This involved further difficult design work in order to retain all the important features of the clock while achieving a work of art that fitted in perfectly with its surroundings. The apparently simple new dial actually took many months to design, with many trials before we were completely satisfied.
In 1977 our craftsmen achieved another 'first', a re-creation of the coin operated pub Polyphon playing disks 50cm (19 5/8") in diameter, made to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, which featured in the one o'clock news on Jubilee Day. In June of the following year, we made the world's first double disk Polyphon, "The Gemini", to our own design.