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My early artistic talents


Did I have a miserable childhood?
George Daniels Master watchmaker
Comments (1) Please sign in or register to add comments
Friday, 28 October 2011 04:41 PM
George Daniels, who died a few days ago, was not only a great watch maker and all-round mechanical...
George Daniels, who died a few days ago, was not only a great watch maker and all-round mechanical genius, he was also a kind, wise and wonderful companion. His friends will miss him terribly.

Yes well, when my mother was 92, she died at 93, she wrote me a letter and I hadn't heard from her for 20 years or so, and she wrote and apologised for my miserable childhood. I must say I was astonished to get this letter because I didn't know I'd had a miserable childhood, it seemed to me to be quite the opposite. Of course we were very poor and lacked often even the basic requirements, or as we consider to be requirements nowadays.  And the diet was very frugal. I mean, for example, it would be bread and dripping for breakfast and a cup of tea and bread and jam for tea and another cup of tea and whatever might be going cheaply available from the local shops for lunch. So it wasn't a very varied diet. And we ate all meals standing round the kitchen table, there were no chairs. The only chairs available were occupied by my father, who made quite certain that he didn't suffer any discomfort. Even his diet was different to ours; he had to be specially catered for.

And I would be sent off in the morning to buy a loaf of bread. One would get a large loaf of bread, stale, for a penny, and I would have to negotiate very heavily trafficked roads to get to this baker's shop. No traffic lights in those days, just motor vehicles, not stopping at junctions. When I got back, the loaf apparently was so stale that my mother in a rage threw it at me and knocked me over. So I was a bit like a ninepin that morning. But during the day I would leave the house and find things to amuse myself with. There was lots going on and lots a workman could do, and I would quite often make money helping the local retailers who had stalls... set their stall up in the high street and I would help, either by carting boxes or helping with the vegetables or generally getting in the way and trying to be useful and make a few pennies like that. For transport, we sat on the rear bumpers of the local busses, and this was a very precarious hold we had on life on that thing. Why we didn't get rolled off and run over, we will never know, but there it was. We travelled up and down on the backs of these busses on the bumpers.

George Daniels, CBE, DSc, FBHI, FSA (19 August 1926 - 21 October 2011) was an English watchmaker most famous for creating the co-axial escapement. Daniels was one of the few modern watchmakers who could create a complete watch by hand, including the case and dial. He was a former Master of the Clockmakers' Company of London and had been awarded their Gold Medal, a rare honour, as well as the Gold Medal of the British Horological Institute, the Gold Medal of the City of London and the Kullberg Medal of the Stockholm Watchmakers’ Guild.

Listeners: Roger Smith

Roger Smith was born in 1970 in Bolton, Lancashire. He began training as a watchmaker at the age of 16 at the Manchester School of Horology and in 1989 won the British Horological Institute Bronze Medal. His first hand made watch, made between 1991 and 1998, was inspired by George Daniels' book "Watchmaking" and was created while Smith was working as a self-employed watch repairer and maker. His second was made after he had shown Dr Daniels the first, and in 1998 Daniels invited him to work with him on the creation of the 'Millennium Watches', a series of hand made wrist watches using the Daniels co-axial escapement produced by Omega. Roger Smith now lives and works on the Isle of Man, and is considered the finest watchmaker of his generation.

Duration: 2 minutes, 51 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2003

Date story went live: 24 January 2008