The George Daniels Educational Trust - three years on...

George Daniels

The George Daniels Educational Trust[1] was George’s vision to assist those training for careers in the fields of horology, civil engineering and medicine. Since the Trust was established in 2012, these three fields have benefitted hugely as a result of George’s foresight:

Final 'Masterpiece' BCU student


  • Over forty clock and watchmaking students and apprentices have received assistance from educational grants and many more have gained through improvements to training, research and workshop facilities in colleges and establishments.  Interest and awareness has increased through prizes and the display of GDET sponsored work in museum space. The Trustees are advised by the George Daniels’ Educational Advisory Committee (GDETAC) for all horological aspects of the Trust’s activites.[2]
  • Students at City University, London have been assisted through doctoral studentships and graduate and post graduate scholarships and a new appointment: the George Daniels Professor of Scientific Instrumentation. 
  • Post graduate medical students from the Isle of Man are now able to apply directly to the Trustees for financial assistance.

In the three years since GDETAC was established, there is an impressive list of achievements: Forty-two educational grants have been made to apprentices from a range of clock and watchmaking businesses across the country and to students on courses at West Dean College, Birmingham City University, the British School of Watchmaking and the British Horological Institute. One student recently wrote:

 I'm just writing to thank you all once again for the amazing contribution made by the GDETAC…The grant made by yourselves has made a world of difference and will never be forgotten”

In addition, some of these teaching establishments and Epping Forest Horology Centre have received grants to purchase or improve workshop equipment and the BHI is now able to rewrite and upgrade its Intermediate and Final Grade Distance Learning Courses to form the Professional Grade. Archived film and material belonging to George Daniels, now owned by the Clockmakers’ Museum and Educational Trust, has been digitised to ensure easier access for future students of horology.  A showcase in the new Clockmakers Museum at the Science Museum is being used to display examples of student work.

GDETAC comprises five members: an independent Chairman, representatives and ex offico members from the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers and and the British Horological Institute and a part time Secretary. The committee has achieved a great deal in drawing together these two long-standing organisations; the WCC was founded in 1631, the BHI was established in 1858.


David Newman, Chairman of the Trustees speaks to Jon Colombo, a prize winning student at West Dean CollegeThe George Daniels Educational Trust is making a difference, both for individuals and the providers of horological education.  The priority is to help students to become professional clock and watchmakers.  At an early stage, it was recognised that direct support for students is not just about college attendance, it is to ensure that the highest standards are achieved.  GDETAC helps to make learning the full time activity it should be, rather than squeezed between gaps in part time employment necessary to fund attendance at college or university.

Rewarding individual results through George’s legacy has been GDETAC’s policy and, though few can match George’s working day, a number have achieved highly commendable results:

  • Three GDET students at Birmingham City University have gained the BHI Bronze Medal, awarded to the candidate who each year achieves the highest result in the final ‘BHI’ examination.
  • Within the first year of degree students, two GDET students gained first class BA Hons Horology degrees. 
  • A GDET student from Birmingham City University gained employment at the British Museum on completion of the three year course.
  • At West Dean College, one GDET student gained a distinction in the West Dean Diploma and another, a significant achievement on the Post Graduate and MA Conservation studies courses. 
  • A GDET student at the British School of Watchmaking gained the highest result ever for the school and, for two years, the second prize was awarded to a GDET student.  
  • A GDET sponsored MPhil student at    Cambridge achieved a Distinction on her    dissertation on sixteenth and seventeenth    century timepieces, on the strength of which she   secured further university funding for a PhD.

As well as acknowledging the high achievers, many have been helped to broaden their training and education.  Assistance is available for Birmingham City University to run Master Classes and deliver short courses at the university and places are available on specialist courses at Upton Hall to complement the teaching at the university.

Jacob Russell apprentice watchmaker.In recent years it has become harder to find suitable opportunities for apprentices.  Many clockmakers are now sole traders without the facilities or means to train an apprentice.  One watchmaker apprentice, Jacob Russell, was featured on television recently with the CEO of the BHI.  He explained how difficult it had been to gain his apprenticeship. Now, three years on, he has passed the nationally accredited qualification The Diploma in the Servicing and Repair of Clocks/Watches and has achieved professional membership of the BHI (MBHI); the skills he has learnt will ensure regular and rewarding employment. Jacob received a Journeyman’s Award from the Lord Mayor at the Livery Companies Skills Council Awards Ceremony in February 2016. GDETAC now assists in the management of its apprentice training through individual online support.

The scheme currently being implemented by the Trust is based on the BHI’s Distance Learning Courses and examinations; these serve the clockmaker apprentice well. A new government backed Trailblazer Apprenticeship is being developed; the initiative is supported by the Trust and, as with all Trailblazer apprenticeships, it is industry led.  It is believed that this approach will prove an important addition to the opportunities for horological training today and, with the benefit of government funding, provide an affordable way forward to encourage more qualified workers for the industry.

The last word must be the personal comments from students who have completed their training; they identify the contribution the George Daniels’ Educational Trust is making to the training of clock and watchmakers today:

“So once again I would like to pass on my heartfelt thanks to the folks on the Committee for their faith in, and support of, a career changing ex IT person hoping to become a horologist”

“I cannot thank you enough for the support I received from the Trust. Without it I would not have been able to continue my studies.”

“Without the GD bursary, my studies would be just too difficult… Apart from course costs it helps me in my research and with the purchase of tools and materials.”

If you are seeking to become a professional clock or watchmaker or to employ an apprentice, the George Daniels Educational Trust Advisory Committee may be able to help.  Contact the Secretary ( or look at the website (


[1] Isle of Man Registered Charity Number 1096

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