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 numerous artifacts of John Harrison held by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, in its Collection and Library, 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 (and also see this second picture which shows detail of wording), was entirely reconstructed by the Clockmakers’ Company in 1879, as it had fallen into decay. Over one hundred years later the tomb was restored and unveiled to its former glory at a ceremony in December 2014.


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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George Daniels’ Lecture – 2nd December 2015

Liverymen & Freemen are invited to attend this year's George Daniels' Lecture - "The Watchmaker's Apprentice"; a film screening about the life of Dr. George Daniels and his apprentice Roger W Smith on Wednesday 2nd December 2015 at 6.15pm. Entrance is free - apply here >>

Garden of Remembrance at St Paul’s

The Clerk, The Master, Freeman Freddie Bearn (RBL Standard Bearer) and Revd Hugh Bearn, Honorary Chaplain at the Garden of Remembrance Service at St Paul's Cathedral 2nd November 2015.

AHCI Young Talent Competition

The Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Indépendants (AHCI) and F P Journe have partnered to launch a Young Talent Competition 2015 - 2016 offering watchmaking apprentices the opportunity to demonstrate their skills by entering a global contest. Applicants must be watchmaking apprentices or have graduated from their apprenticeship after August 2014. The Clockmakers' Company encourages qualified individuals to apply - click this link. Closing date for entry is 31 Dec 2015

The Clockmakers’ Masterpiece Competition 2014-16

The Clockmakers' Company 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