There have been many clock and watchmakers in Hungerford. For examples of some of the clocks made by the Woodhams and Matthew Bance, see Clocks & Watches. The local clock and watchmakers include:
- A large family in Hungerford during the 18th-19th century, associated with 1, 3-4, 30 and 105 High Street. Records extant from 1742 to 1896.
The Constable's Accounts in 1742 include "spent with Woodham when he undertook the clock - 1s 0d". This was Edward Woodham
(born 1702), who probably took over maintaining the town clock from John Tubb, who died soon after in 1746. When Edward Woodham died in 1777, his will describes him as "whitesmith"; he left everything to his widow Joan.
Edward and Joan Woodham lived in 1 High Street at least by 1774, and their eldest son James Woodham
(born 1741) took over the clock-making business. This James Woodham had a son - also James Woodham
(born 1789), and he is recorded in the 1841 census as "clock-maker". He was still living at 1 High Street in 1862, when he is described as "retired watchmaker".
By this time, Henry Woodham
(born c1820), presumably son of James, is described as watchmaker. Henry continued to live at 1 High Street at least until the census of 1891, when he is described as watch and clock-maker, silversmith. The yard behind 1 High Street (now Canal Side) was known as "Woodham's Yard", one of the properties being occupied by William Woodham, a carpenter.
Other members of the family include:
Edward Woodham (c1791- ) - occupying 3-4 High Street in 1818. In 1841 (aged 50) he is described as gunsmith, and by 1851 as gunsmith and pattern-maker. In 1861, the property is owned by Charles Woodham, possibly his son?
Charles Woodham - Owner of 3-4 High Street in 1861 – possibly the son of Edward Woodham (c1791)
Ambrose Woodham (b1809) [May be the same person as James Ambrose Woodham?] - Occupied 105 High Street in 1847-1861. Described in 1851 as clockmaker. Also called James Ambrose
Woodham (in Billings Directory) – watch and clockmaker, High Street. This is possibly the James Woodham junior, watchmaker at 105 High Street in the 1871 census. It seems that he soon moved across the street, because in the 1881 census there is no Woodham in 105 High Street, but James Woodham is at 30 High Street (now Barclay's Bank). By 1891 his business had been taken over by William Mapson - see below.
Charles Thomas Woodham - Described in 1895 Kelly Directory as "Relieving and vaccination officer for Hungerford district and attendance and inquiry officer, Park Street".
Miss Kate Woodham - Described in 1895 Kelly Directory as "watch and clock-maker, silversmith, High Street.
There appears to be no record to any Woodham in the High Street after 1896.
Matthew Bance. Another well-known clockmaker was
Matthew Bance, one of a large family living in the Hungerford, Kintbury and Inkpen area. Matthew lived at 119 High Street (now
NatWest Bank), from 1781. He died in 1805.
A distant relative of Matthew Bance, namely Ashley Strachan, has carried out extensive research into Matthew Bance, and has compiled a booklet entitled "Matthew Bance 1743-1805; Clockmaker and Watchmaker at Kintbury and Hungerford". We are indebted to Ashley for
this interesting work.
William Mapson. From 1891 Kelly Directory has William
Mapson as watchmaker. It is likely that this was at 30 High Street (having taken over the business from James Woodham), as he was
certainly owner and occupant in the Commoner's List of 1896.
William Mapson continued the business until 1916-17 when 30 High Street was taken over by Albert Parsons the photographer, apparently in a swap of properties arranged with William Mapson and Ernest Clements.
Ernest Clements. [The
following notes include information from his daughter Ada Froom, interviewed in 1983]. Ernest Clements was an apprentice at Mapson's (30 High Street) before starting a business on his own in the front room of his first cottage (now the site of
Fairfields in the High Street). He moved to 4 Bridge Street in c1907 (rented from the Freemans), and later (c1916-17) to 1 Bridge Street, when Albert Parsons moved to 30 High Street following his son's drowning in Hungerford lock. Ernest Clements
never owned 1 Bridge Street; it was in trust to three brothers at Vernham Dean (possibly the "Devisees of Daniel Allen"?).
He worked at a bench in the front room, and went by bike, later motor-bike, to visit the large houses, including Littlecote and Chilton Lodge to repair clocks. He looked after the Town
Hall clock, and devised the mechanism to stop the night chimes circa WWI, previously thought to be impossible.
Ernest was married to Lydia Franks, and they had five daughters: Lydia (b. 1900 – died aged 6 from whoping cough); Ada
Louise (b. 1901); Winifred Frances Anne (b. 1905); Marjorie Mabel (b. 1909); and Lilian Marie (b. 1912), who became Mrs. Mundy, and lived in Dunside, 1 Bridge Street until 1994). Ernest Clements wanted a son!
Lydia Clements died in 1951, after which he retired and lived with his daughter Mrs. Froom in Charnham Street. He later moved to another daughter in Mortimer, where he died in 1954. [With
thanks to Ernest's grandson Frank Smith]
- Family Group Sheet of Ernest and Lydia Clements
- Press cuttings about the Town Hall clock
The business was taken over in 1954 by John Earthy
(who also worked in Newbury)., and later by his brother.
Charles May ran a clock repair and jewellery business from 23 High Street (now Swift Cleaners) between c1945 and 1971.
Chris Bessent has run The Clockmaker in Hungerford since 2000, and from 127 High Street since 2003. For more information see www.theclockmaker.info
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