Posts Tagged ‘electric’

A Family Heirloom?

January 11, 2014

I don’t think my family have much in the way of valuable possessions so I use the word ‘heirloom’ in no financial sense. Rather I am looking at an object with over 70 years of family history, recording an event from nearly 100 years ago.

The item is a clock and it was recently passed to me by my sister. I am generally the receiver of items that relate to our family and I did know this was coming. It actually arrived as a Christmas present.

The clock is a wall mounted Smiths electric clock purchased in the early 1940s. As such it is really rather ordinary although I very much like its art deco style and I always have, for I have known this clock for ever. It is made in a material I’ll call Bakelite


Here’s the clock. The mains cable emerges from the top which seems a tad awkward these days. I have memories of a cable being taken off a light fitting to power this clock at one time. The white plastic coated cable will not be original and doesn’t quite seem in keeping. My memory isn’t clear, but I can imagine the original cable as being a rubber insulated, brown cotton covered pair of wires, twisted together. The knob at the bottom is for setting the time and, in theory, for starting the clock. The synchronous mo0tor used in this clock needs to get its rotor travelling at just the right speed to work. Once going it is very reliable and a first rate time keeper, but actually starting it does not seem to be at all easy.

Now let’s look at a clock detail – the metal plaque mounted inside.


This is what makes an ordinary and inconvenient clock into something special and a family heirloom. Harry was my father. Dora was his younger sister, my aunt. They purchased this clock to mark Mum and Dad’s Silver Wedding Anniversary on January 28th 1941. The happy couple, my grandparents, had been married at St Stephen’s Church in Bexhill precisely 25 years earlier in 1916.

Grandad died in 1966 (soon after the Golden Wedding). Granny died in 1972. I’m not sure when the clock passed to my sister, but it is now more than forty years since it left my grandparents’ home.

Now it will be one of those things my grandchildren see when they visit us. Maybe one day it will hang on a wall in one of their homes and they can tell their grandchildren about ancient relatives they never knew.