Crowdfunding to restore important Vulliamy

A thoroughly modern fundraising method is being employed to help restore an important Vulliamy clock which is almost 200 years old.

The clock, at St Luke’s, West Norwood, was built in 1825 at a cost of £357 and is the first ‘flatbed’ turret clock in the UK.

Vulliamy came up with this new and revolutionary way of laying out the mechanism of his turret clocks following a trip to the Continent. It quickly became a common feature in the industry as it enabled the clockmaker to dismantle the clock one arbor at a time.

Other refinements of the clock are the  pinwheel escapement with Vulliamy’s design of self-levelling pallets and a two second pendulum with heavy bob, both ensuring an accurate performance.

Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy (1780-1854) was official clockmaker to George IV, William IV and Victoria and, as such, his clocks were substantially more expensive. However, he boldly claimed they would outperform and outlive the cheaper alternatives.

Unfortunately the clock at St Luke’s stopped several years ago and now, after many years of neglect, needs a complete overhaul, the fitting of new automatic winding, remote monitoring equipment and reglazing and repair of the four dials.

The £35,000 project is being led by James Nye, Chair of the Antiquarian Horological Society. Already £16,000 has been raised. The Church Buildings Council has donated £4,000, the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers £2,000 Antiquarian Horological Society £1,000 and local sponsors £9,000.

James is now hoping the horological community will dig deep to help raise the remaining £19,000 and has come up with a very modern method of raising money.

Crowdfunding has gained in popularity over the last few years with ‘lots of people’ being encouraged to ‘donate smaller amounts’ to worthy causes online.

James explained: ‘We have already had a good response to the launch of the JustGiving/Crowdfunding site. It has pleasingly attracted support from four members of the Vulliamy family.’

But it’s not just about the size of donations but the actual number of donors that is important.

He added: ‘I am really trying to get some momentum going. We have an Heritage Lottery Fund bid in preparation, but it will be all the stronger as a proposal if I can demonstrate widespread support.

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The four dials are in a poor state of repair.The flatbed Vulliamy movement hasn’t worked for several years.

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