Historical information

In August 1884, Alfred Hirst who had started his trade as a watch repairer and was described as a watchmaker extraordinaire established Hirst Brothers and Company, on Union Street in Oldham Manchester. He took his two stepbrothers into the business and the company was set up to produce timepieces and jewellery as well as importing “Limit company” Swiss watches and precision machine tools for the watch and clock trade. By 1902 Hirst Brothers. had become a limited company and was still growing, adding other businesses in Manchester in 1904 and at Birmingham in 1907. The quality of the clocks and watches was such that Alfred Hirst realised his greatest ambition in 1912 with a range of watches which carried the "Limit" trademark. These watch movements had originally been made in Switzerland and shipped to Hirst Bros. to be put into British made “Dennison” cases. This trade brought even more growth with additional sales offices opening in London and Glasgow. At the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 found them manufacturing aircraft parts including revolution counters and optical instruments. The firm had been tasked by the Ministry of Munitions to solve the problem of pilots dropping bombs by hand and as a result, they effectively created the first bomb rack.

After the war, the company once again began to prosper and with the demand for their products increasing they looked to build a new purpose-built factory to manufacture their products. In 1917 they purchased a seven-acre field site at Tame Side Dobcross, the designing of the new factory was passed onto local architect AJ Howcroft. His brief for the design of the clockworks would have been prompted by Alfred Hirst who having visited modern factories in the United States was inspired by the latest factory designs providing as much daylight as possible during working hours. The factory was eventually completed in 1920, by the mid-1920s there were cheap clock imports from Germany and production turned to radio sets and other components as well as counter and gas meters for the "Parkinson and Cowan" company who was later to take over the business. In 1926 came the cotton crash and the District Bank who had loans with the company foreclosed on the Hirst loan. The company did survive and throughout the second World, War II were involved in munitions work at the factory as well as making instruments for various aircraft.

In the 1950’s they were producing meters and high grade measuring equipment but by the 1970's the business had closed and the factory was demolished in the mid-1980 "s


The item is a good example of the later use of an early mechanism “Fusee” that was originally invented around 1525 in Prague. This type of clock mechanism was replaced as watchmakers looked for mechanisms that could reduce the size of clocks and watches, it appears England was the only country to continue making clocks with a Fusee device until around 1900,s of which our clock is an example. The use of a Fusee movement eventually became obsolete in 1970,s. The item is significant for the collection as it is a clock with a movement that has long since been made obsolete.

Physical description

Fusee type gallery wall clock made by Tame Side with an 8-day mechanical fusee movement. The white enamel dial is a little crazed and some of the Roman Numeral numbers are fading due to over-cleaning. The movement has a hexagonal iron pendulum bob hooking onto a pendulum rod with a spring-wound anchor escapement.

Inscriptions & markings

Only mark is stamped on the movement believed to be a production number "13490" and made in Tame Side. (If the clock had been made after 1912 it would have had a trade mark "Limit")