Alex is an industry-qualified conservation-led clockmaker who started working for a noted clockmaking company during term breaks whilst studying for an HND in Engineering. Immediately drawn to horology for its technical aspects, considered approach, craft skills and the opportunity it gave for creative expression, Alex’s formal training was then forged on a traditional path, that of a structured, time served, five-year apprenticeship with Thwaites & Reed Clockmakers.
There have been two key platforms in Alex’s horological career so far: turret and domestic clocks. Across this wide spectrum he has had the opportunity to work independently, as well as collaboratively with a wide variety of partners, on various restoration and conservation projects both across the UK and in Switzerland. He has built his career working on a collection of iconic and historic industrial turret clocks, as well as important items held in fine collections, both private and public.
After leaving Thwaites and Reed in 2021, Alex joined the in-house clock team at The Palace of Westminster, working on the nationally important collection of heritage clocks across the estate. He also worked at the heart of the team which completed the internationally significant restoration of the Great Clock of Westminster, affectionately known as Big Ben.
He left the Palace of Westminster in March 2023, to continue his own business, the Alex Jeffrey Clock Company, which he started back in 2019. He joined the Clockworks as clockmaker-in-residence, to support the servicing and conservation of the collection, alongside his own private practice.
Dr James Nye – Founder
James has been involved in clocks since the age of fourteen, when he was put in charge of a Gents distributed time system at his school in Sussex. This sparked an abiding interest in electric timekeeping.
Following graduation from Balliol College, Oxford, James worked in commerce, though horology increasingly filled his time. In 2011 he completed a PhD in history at King’s College, London. His thesis focussed on company promotion and included case studies of Victorian and Edwardian electric clock companies.
Throughout his career, James has assembled a wide-ranging collection of electric time artefacts enjoyed by many visiting specialists and enthusiasts over the last thirty-five years. In addition to research into the emergence of distributed accurate timekeeping from the late nineteenth century onwards, a field in which he collaborates with David Rooney, James has in recent years covered much earlier ground, and researched clockmakers across the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
James is chairman of the council of the AHS, and has been Secretary of its Electrical Horology Group since 1996. He is a long-standing member of the BHI, a Life Member of the NAWCC, belongs to the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Chronometrie as well as Chronometrophilia. He is a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers.
Anthony Turner, James Nye and Jonathan Betts, A General History of Horology, Oxford University Press, 2022.
James Nye, A Long Time in Making, Oxford University Press, 2014.
James Nye and David Rooney, ‘“Such Great Inventors as the Late Mr. Lund”: an Introduction to the Standard Time Company, 1870–1970’, Antiquarian Horology (December 2007), 30, 501–523. Alan Shenton Memorial Prize from the Antiquarian Horological Society, 2008.
David Rooney and James Nye, ‘“Greenwich Observatory Time for the Public Benefit”: Standard Time and Victorian Networks of Regulation’, British Journal for the History of Science, 42(1): 5–30, March 2009. IEEE Life Members’ Prize in Electrical History from the Society for the History of Technology, 2009. Click here to read more.
Conference and Symposium Papers:
London Group of Historical Geographers Symposium: Time, Modernity and the City, Autumn 2012: ‘The Tricky Business of Selling Time – an exploration of European civic time distribution systems, their financing and failure.’
British Academy Symposium: Soothsayers of Doom? December 2011: ‘From Boom to Bust: Speculators, Promoters and Journalists in the City in the 1890s.’
Greenwich Time Symposium June 2010: ‘“He met with an abundant share of the trials and difficulties which proverbially beset the inventor” – an account of the life of George Bennett Bowell (1875–1942).’
Monetary History Group April 2009: ‘The World of the Company Promoter in the London Capital Market: 1890–1914.’
Greenwich Time Symposium October 2008: ‘Saving daylight or saving their bacon? – Money as the motive force in Edwardian timekeeping.’
AHS London Lecture Series, Royal Astronomical Society, July 2012: ‘A Good Time in Berlin – The remarkable clocks of Normal-Zeit’.
AHS Northern Section, July 2012: ‘Synchronome – a look behind the scenes’.
BHI West Country Section, September 2011: ‘The Importance of Being on Time: an exploration of new technologies in the transmission of information at a distance: 1850–1950’.
Electrical Timekeeping Group, AHS: March 2011: ‘Submarines and the Submergence of Synchronome: the wartime operations of the Synchronome Company and their impact on the business’.