A Winchester Apprentice

01 September 2021

I am seventeen years old and a Clockmakers' Company apprentice working near Winchester. My employer, Richard Scorey, and I work closely with the Company mentor as I begin the BHI Distance Learning Course. The Company pays for the Distance Learning Course and the BHI examination entry fees and provides mentoring. This assistance is an invaluable aid to guide and inform my studies and examination preparation throughout the three-year apprenticeship. At the end of the apprenticeship, I hope to gain the Diploma in the Servicing and Repair of Clocks/Watches which will enable me to become an accredited member of the BHI – MBHI.  

At the moment, there is written work and practical exercises to help me prepare for the examinations. Although I find the written work challenging, my mentor from the Company and colleagues at the Clock Work Shop provide support and guidance to help me to get it done! The practical exercises are very good tests, I am learning to make small tools which will be useful in my career and starting to master skills to make components for clocks. 

I am thoroughly enjoying being a horologist – it doesn’t feel like a job at all but more of a hobby. A wonderful thing about being young and starting my apprenticeship is the interest and support from other people in the trade. People who are coming to the end of their career want to pass on tools and books, even clocks.

It is really important to hand these skills down to the next generation and prevent clockmaking becoming a dying trade. So few new people going into horology are interested in clocks, the interest today is watches, watches, watches. I learnt recently, only one out of ten entrants to horology specialise in clockmaking. We need to inspire more young people to join the industry and get involved. There is always going to be a demand for proper, skilled horologists.

I started my apprenticeship at the clock workshop in January 2021. It has, however, been a possibility for about over two years, ever since I was on holiday with my family in Dorset. We saw the Clock Workshop in Abbotsbury and popped in, they couldn’t have been more welcoming. The next year we went to Dorset again and had to go back to the shop and was invited to spend the day in the workshop! I just couldn’t refuse, the day went so quickly. At the end of my time in the workshop, Simon Allen, the proprietor, suggested I should start an apprenticeship with them.  

Unfortunately, it was so far from my home in North Oxfordshire, I didn’t know how it could be managed. However, I quickly learnt apprenticeships in the clock industry are extremely rare and I was very lucky to have the opportunity. My original plan was to move to Dorset and start my apprenticeship but, at fifteen, I was just too young. An introduction to Richard Scorey who manages the Clock Work Shop in Hampshire created the opportunity. It is still a long way from Oxfordshire but I now commute over seventy miles each way every day. 

One day, I would love to own a clock by Joseph Knibb. He was originally from part of north Oxfordshire near where I live.  He is quite rightly regarded as one of the great clockmakers not only of the golden age but of all time. However that makes Knibb clocks rather expensive, I need to work hard at my apprenticeship first!