John Cronin

Horological craftsman and marine chronometer specialist, John Cronin, studied Horology at Bradford Technical College in the 1960s.

John CroninJohn attended Bradford Technical College two days per week as an apprentice watchmaker at Fillans & Sons in Huddersfield.

“I attended the old Horology course in the early 60s. This was a day release course for apprentice watchmakers linked to the British Horological Institute. We had a suite of rooms high up in an old Victorian building up lots of rickety stairs. Mr Schofield, who was a craftsman of the old school, was in charge. I remember a trip round the Town Hall clock one afternoon which mysteriously stopped shortly after our visit! Nothing to do with us - Honest!”

John was a top student and he was awarded a gold medal from the College and a British Horological Institute prize for the national exams. He was elected to Fellowship of the Institute at the youngest possible age of 21.

“After finishing my apprenticeship I spent some time in the trade ending up as a shop manager in Cambridge, where I decided to take a history degree and went into teaching. After 25 years at the chalk face I took early retirement 5 years ago and went back to my old trade as a watchmaker. I now have a business dealing in watches and marine chronometers. It just goes to show that skills learned are rarely wasted. Watchmakers left the trade in droves after the introduction of cheap quartz timepieces, but now the few skilled craftsmen left are in great demand.”

John was winner of the 1994 Artist Craftsman competition of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers. More recently he has become involved with the Institute of Conservation (ICON), who are working to reorganise and gather together all the various conservation professionals engaged in museum conservation and restoration work. John is one of 10 horological conservators who have gained the new accredited conservator/restorer qualification. He has been appointed as one of the assessors who take part in the vetting and assessing of conservators applying to join the scheme, which is now a requirement for any conservator working for publicly funded organisations such as museums and the National Trust.

Photograph supplied by John Cronin