No, it’s got nothing to do with horoscopes or any other arcane way of predicting the future; though the Greek origin for both words has the same root – Horo – meaning hour.
So, it’s got something to do with time, and the measurement thereof, that much is clear. To find out more, I caught up with Brian Noble and Zanna Perry from the British Horological Institute (BHI), ahead of their visit to our Alexandra Palace Antiques Fair on Sunday 2nd September.
Can you describe what Horology is and what the BHI do?
Horology is the science and art of clocks and watches. At the BHI we teach people from complete beginners to professionals, the art of clock and watch making and repair. We’ve also recently branched into case polishing. We run various short courses at our headquarters at Upton Hall in Newark. There is also a well-renowned distance learning course for those serious for a career in Horology. It is all vocational. So if you’re a complete beginner you can come to a taster day, or go right the way through to gaining post-nominals after your name and becoming an accredited repairer and all at your own pace.
How long has it been going?
We have been in existence for 160 years, since 1858. However, the move to Upton Hall was more recent, in 1972. It gave the opportunity to expand our training and education programme. We have two workshops, one for watch training and the other a clock training workshop.
How many members does it have? (What kind of people are they – what ages?)
We have in excess of 2,000 members, in the UK and all over the world. The age range is absolutely huge though interest has grown considerably in the last 18 months. All of our members receive a monthly copy of our fabulous Horological Journal. Membership starts from only £110.00.
How can interested people get involved in Horology?
More recently we have realised that the BHI was almost unknown outside the trade. But now we have opened our doors to the public and run taster days for beginners in clock and watch repair, turret clocks and French polishing. Prices start at £99, see our website for more details. There is also a museum on site – look at www.museumoftimekeeping.org.uk for opening times.
What kind of skills can people learn?
At the BHI you can learn skills to whatever level or ability you wish to reach. Our teachers are patient and there are six students per class, maximum. You watch and learn at your own speed. The courses are fun and the environment is relaxed. There is on-site accommodation for those who wish to stay with us for the duration of a course.
Why might members of the Antiques Trade find these skills useful?
The skills are useful, we are sure, to many in the antiques trade. We’ve noticed from visits to the fair that there were numerous clocks, watches and furniture pieces there. This is an opportunity for those in the trade to learn more about repairing clocks and watches.
Are you available to speak to interested people, at any of iacf’s future events?
We would be delighted to attend IACF events and we’re looking forward to the forthcoming show at Alexandra Palace. We are very happy to speak to antique collectors at any time about our services at Upton Hall.
What is the best way to find out more, or contact you?
The next iacf Antiques & Collectors Fairs are: Sunday 2nd September – Alexandra Palace; Tues 4th & Wed 5th September – Ardingly; Fri 14th, Sat 15th & Sun 16th September – Shepton Mallet; Mon 24th September – Runway Monday.