The Museum of Timekeeping’s Viscount Alan Midleton and six other trustees hosted 30 guests at Upton Hall for the unveiling of a replica of a water clock, which had originally been created by Sir Isaac Newton as a teenager. Guests included Councillor Kevin Rostance (Chairman, Nottinghamshire County Council), Councillor Patience Uloma Ifediora (Sheriff of Nottingham), Councillor Robert Crowe (Chairman, Newark and Sherwood District Council), Councillor Rita Crowe (Newark and Sherwood District Council), Councillor Adam Stokes (Mayor of Grantham), Councillor Irene Brown (Mayor of Newark), Councillor Lyn Harris (Chairman, Southwell Town Council) and the Venerable Nicola Sullivan (Dean of Southwell).
With no drawings available, horologist Jim Arnfield and his team of restoration and management used copies of notes made by Newton in order to design and make the clock. The original idea came from a meeting with Alan Midleton and the museum’s Chief Development Officer, John Hope, with Jennifer Johns from the National Trust’s Woolsthorpe Manor, the original home of Isaac Newton. They had been invited over to view a sundial, which had also been created by the young scientist and which was on display at the local church where Newton was christened.
The evening’s formalities commenced with a brief talk by Viscount Midleton on the formation and 160 year history of the British Horological Institute, owners of Upton Hall and founders of the museum back in 1994.
John Hope gave an outline development of the museum and the five-year business plan which the museum trustees had agreed to in order to ensure long-term self-sustainability. John explained about their main source of income being group visits, regular Friday openings to the summer, special events and recently introduced school educational visits, which use the facilities of the museum to educate primary schoolchildren. John explained that 25% of these left junior school unable to tell the time on an analogue watch and that the same 25% lag behind where they should be with numeracy studies. Carrying out a pilot scheme, the museum had successfully helped pupils to overcome this situation.
John emphasised the importance of sensible promotion, advising that they had this year exhibited at the Travel and Tourist Show, had featured on BBC Radio and BBC Television’s Bargain-Hunt programme and been fortunate enough to win the Gold Award for the Best New Tourist Attraction in the Visit Nottinghamshire Stars Award scheme. He also paid tribute to the team of volunteers without which most museums would be unable to manage.
In addition to keeping the museum’s clocks working Jim and his team have completed many other projects including the solar powered Millennium Clock and the unique 150 Clock, which holds pride of place in the Grand Hall at Upton.