1947 was a very auspicious year for me. I started farming at the age of 20, in Kent, and funnily in that same year, a small factory in East Dereham in Norfolk, started making clocks, under the name Metamec.
Little did I know at the time that I would be visiting East Dereham in less than three years to negotiate the purchase of a larger and better farm on the Norfolk coast at Waxham.
I had no idea at the time that the Metamec factory existed, although it was only about 40 miles from my farm. In fact, the first time I heard about Metamec was about three years ago, when I bought a lovely little clock for $20 at a local stall. I took it home and looked up on the Web, and to my surprise, found that the factory at Dereham had existed with as many as 700 employees, making 350 different models of clocks the whole time I was farming at Waxham in the 1950's and early 60's.
The Metamec factory was an offshoot of Jenkins Productions, who made furniture and had gained a contract with the Ministry of Defence to make ammunition boxes. Huge amounts of timber, brass and steel were used in the production of these ammunition boxes, and when the end of the war came the contract was revoked, and so Jenkins Productions, which had now been renamed 'Jentique' found itself with lots of timber offcuts and brass surplus to the normal needs.
Captain Bernard A. Smart decided to make clocks using some of the surplus materials. Within a few years, his factory was turning out 25,000 clocks a week and became the largest manufacturer of clocks in the U.K.
I have been collecting Metamec Clocks since 2003 and now have a nice and interesting collection from the diverse output of this amazing factory.
The first model ever made was in 1947. It was numbered Model 701, there is a photograph of one of these clocks in my collection. It was originally an electric clock, but I have a model of the same clock with a wind-up movement. This is illustrated here.
The factory made a huge variety of wall clocks, mantel clocks, carriage clocks, alarm clocks and even grandfather clocks. These clocks were powered by several different means. Electricity, wind-up, batteries both D size and AA. Later, quartz movements were used. In the early days, many of the movements were bought in from other makers. Some were German, some were French and some were Scottish. Many were made by British competitor SMITHS Clocks.
Most of the information I have given I have learned from Clifford Bird's marvellous book, 'METAMEC The Clockmaker Dereham'.
The book is published by The Antiquarian Horological Society, New House, High Street, Ticehurst, East Sussex, TN5 7AL, U.K. I thank both author and publisher.
Above is a photo of one of the ammunition boxes made by Jenkins Productions.
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