The Incomparable John Harrison (1693 – 1776)

John Harrison

John Harrison

Harrison 123635

John Harrison’s personal regulator, containing three of his inventions; oil free bearings, grasshopper friction free escapement and a temperature compensated pendulum.

The collection of John Harrison artefacts held by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, is equalled by no other, except that at the Royal Museums Greenwich.

The story of John Harrison’s life has been so thoroughly told in books and on film, that there is no need to repeat it here, but simply observe that he spent 39 of his working years in London.

He lived first (c.1737) in Leather Lane. From there he moved in 1739 to Orange Street, Red Lion Square and in 1752 to the junction of Lee Street (now Dane Street) and Red Lion Square, less than two miles from where his artefacts are presently displayed.

Equation of time 106109

“The Equation of Time” table, pasted by John Harrison inside the door of his pendulum clock of 1717

Harrison never became a freeman of the Clockmakers’ Company, but instead entrusted various celebrated freemen with his secrets and with vital work. Best known is perhaps George Graham (Master of the Company in 1722), who gave him valuable advice and lent him money on an early visit to London in 1730. Other key freemen in Harrison’s story were John Jefferys and Larcum Kendall.

Harrison died on his 83rd birthday in Red Lion Square, and was buried in Hampstead Churchyard. His impressive tomb (second picture shows detail of wording) was entirely reconstructed by the Clockmakers’ Company in 1879, as it had fallen into decay and is inspected annually by the Company’s Junior Warden.


John Harrison’s “H5″

H5 movement

John Harrison’s “H5″

The Company acquired the majority of its Harrison Manuscripts and Harrison’s 5th and last Marine Timekeeper in 1891, having already acquired his regulator in 1877.

Harrison doc with ideas

The first and last page of a document written by John Harrison (1693-1776) concerning ideas for making accurate clocks for use on land or at sea, 1730


James Harrison a portrait in paste by James Tassie

Jeffries watch complete

The John Jefferys watch that was John Harrison’s personal pocket watch and the prototype for his prize-winning 4th marine timekeeper.

click to make this work !

Harrison’s Grasshopper escapement

Click here to see Harrison manuscripts and drawings.

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Antiquarian Horological Society (AHS) Lectures

A new formal affiliation was recently signed between the WCC and the AHS. WCC Liverymen and Freemen are encouraged to attend the excellent AHS Lectures, which are free to WCC members and include teas before and wine afterwards, so are very social and interesting events. List of forthcoming lectures in London is on the AHS site.

The Clockmakers’ Masterpiece Competition 2014-16

The Clockmakers' Company has launched The Clockmakers' Masterpiece Competition designed to reward and encourage individuals studying horology to show outstanding use of the skills involved in the art and practice of watch and clockmaking … see the rules … click for on-line application

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