To celebrate the Usher Gallery's ninetieth year, Dawn Heywood explores the wonderful artworks collected in each decade it has been open.
1987-1996: Clocks Galore
The end of the 1980s witnessed a burst of activity within the horological collection at the Usher Gallery. Perhaps most importantly was the Roy Sargisson bequest in 1988. This consisted of over 20 clocks, both longcase and mantel, dating from a period between c.1670 to 1860, and was the most significant addition to the horology collection since Usher's founding bequest.
Roy Sargisson was born in Langham, near Alford, and was brought up on the family farm. He became interested in clocks as a young man, starting his own collection. This soon became his lifelong interest and his house was crammed full with clocks and watches. He taught himself how to repair clocks and even made a few of his own.
The collection he bequeathed included eleven longcase clocks, five by Lincolnshire makers. These five are interesting as they demonstrate how early clockmaking existed in the county and also show that some Lincolnshire makers were producing clocks of excellent quality.
The earliest Lincolnshire example is a longcase clock by Stuart Watts of Boston, dating from the 1690s. There is also an outstanding example of a skeleton clock from Spalding. This dates to c.1830 and is signed Thomas Wilson. Not all of Wilson's clocks were made by him however, and this clock is attributed to James Rippin, another clockmaker working in Spalding. There are also clocks by John Stokeld of Lincoln, Joshua Shaw of Billingborough, and Thomas Scott and Thomas Jackson of Gainsborough.
The finest of the longcase clocks by a London maker is that by Peter Garon of the early 18th Century with a very high quality Kingwood veneered case.
Of the other clocks acquired in this period one by Robert Sutton of Barton on Humber has a wooden movement, which is very rare. We know Sutton was influenced by the work of John Harrison. Another great name associated with clockmaking is Thomas Tompion, often called the father of English clockmaking, working in the late 17th/early 18th Centuries. He produced clocks of exceptional quality and one of his longcase clocks was bequeathed in 1990.
These important acquisitions, alongside Usher's own collection, have made the Usher Gallery a centre of horological importance.
The Bailgate Independent is also covering this story in their monthly issue – http://www.bailgateindependent.co.uk/ Out now!
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