Horological supplier to change hands after 40 years


Established horological supplier Meadows & Passmore is hoping that a new owner can be found to take over the reins after 40 years in business.

Director Mervyn Passmore is confident  a buyer can be found to enable the Company – a household name in the world of clock repairing ­– to continue trading and serving its existing customer base.

A buyer has already been found for the  premises in Brighton and the sale is progressing well. The company, including stock and goodwill, is also up for sale for around £100,000-£150,000. Interest has so far been shown by a French company.

‘It would be fantastic if someone could take it on,’ said Mervyn, who wants to retire to pursue other interests.  ‘We have  a lot of loyal customers who will be very disappointed if the Company closes completely.’

Mervyn set up the business in the late seventies along with partner Peter Meadows, who retired last year. He says he has a lot to thank the Company for as getting into horology literally saved his eyesight.

He explained: ‘I had an eye injury following a diving accident in Spain in the late 1970s and was unable to continue working. Eye surgeons did everything they could but gradually things got worse.

‘Peter, a friend and colleague at the firm I had worked for, visited me at home and together we went to the Crowborough Hospital Fete where he bought a clock that needed attention.

‘I repaired it and during the weekly eye check up the surgeon wanted to know what I had been doing because my sight had improved noticeably since the previous week.

‘On hearing that I had repaired a clock the surgeon suggested that I go and buy some more and that’s how it all started!’

In the early days, Mervyn and Peter rented a stall in Chapel Place Antiques Market in Tunbridge Wells to sell the clocks that they acquired. More were bought from auctions in Kent and Sussex.

Mervyn remembers that one particular clock was difficult to repair. An American OG wall clock had a painted glass tablet that was shattered. It depicted State Street, Boston. Mervyn set about making a duplicate with the help of a local estate agent who printed his own flyers and between them they managed to copy the line drawing on the original and touch up the negative to hide the cracks.

Mervyn then devised a way to transfer the image to a sheet of glass and Peter copied the colours onto it from the original. The market for American clocks was very buoyant in the late 1970s, with Americans taking container loads back home to sell. A

London specialist in American clocks, Bill Matthews, got hold of one of the State Street reproductions and was so impressed he lent them a selection of original glass tablets in good condition to copy. Very soon a catalogue of their glass tablets was in

circulation. Customers began to ask for other parts for the same clocks and the next catalogue had loop end springs, pendulums, backboard labels and a host of other related products.

At that time all the stock records were kept on cards in a drawer that had been picked up at a clock auction Stock was kept in filing cabinets in the dining room. It soon became clear that commercial premises were needed. In 1980 Meadows & Passmore moved to a shop in Jarvis Brook remaining there for 20 years. During that period, the Company expanded into the flat above, the converted stables behind and then took over an adjacent workshop. Eventually there was not enough space and the firm was forced to relocate to Brighton which had a wider choice of industrial buildings.

Ironically it was Mervyn’s knowledge of technology that continued to drive the firm from strength to strength. In the late 80s, stock cards were abandoned in favour of a computer. Almost comical by today’s standards it ran on two 8inch 8k floppy disks  but nevertheless enabled the firm to have a significant advantage over the competition.

In the mid 1990s Mervyn devised an Automated Order Line that chatted away to customers on the telephone, taking orders, giving price and availability information, etc. This same system is still very popular today. It was named Harvey after the white rabbit in the movie of the same name because it could be heard ‘rabbiting’ away in the computer room. It must be one of the few commercial systems still running on the DOS operating system today. In its heyday four of them could be heard talking to customers in different languages rather like the Tower of Babel!

In complete contrast to Harvey, a 19” server rack containing a stack of Intel Raid Servers runs the rest of the business, hosting numerous web sites, an email server, a catalogue generator as well as handling stock control, VAT accounting, invoicing, bar code label printing, customer records, etc. Even the switchboard will greet you by name if the number you are calling from matches a phone number in the customer database.

The firm became well known in the trade for innovative products such as Supadial transfers, the marble case restorer Marblack, the movement cleaning system Horogrene and the recently introduced Horoglide, the oil based mainspring grease which provides the benefits of both an oil and a grease.

Mervyn’s own passion for Anniversary clocks has also assisted thousands of 400 Day clock repairers identify and adjust their movements and Anniversary Clock Adjusting is now available in French & German as well as English.

In the late 1990s the firm expanded into France and set up an office in Dieppe, and ten years ago when their landlord redeveloped the site it relocated to a village in the south where it still is today.

Mervyn feels it is time for someone new to take over the business. After 40 years he still has a long list of things he hasn’t yet done, like so many of us, and he’s giving in to family pressure and moving on. Although it would be ideal to find a local person to take the firm on, it could easily be relocated.

 If you or anyone you know would like to take the reins for the next stage, please contact sales@ets-corporate.com who are handling the sale.

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