With our Makers Directory listing now well over 200 watchmakers from the town of Little Bolton and of Great Bolton, both of which merged into the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton. This Directory is now the definitive guide to the Clock and Watch makers of Bolton and the surrounding places that are associated with the town.

We’re now coming to realise just how important Bolton was for many industrial reasons, but also now we are seeing it as a centre for the clock and watch making industry.

Building the research, each page gives, where possible, details of the maker, their lives, and examples of their works. As always research continues.

Some significant clocks and some significant makers have been discovered, and other mysteries uncovered, and unravelled within these pages. A whole cadre of female Clock and watchmakers have been found in the town.

Bolton Lancashire, renowned as a Cotton Town, less well known as an Engineering Town, with its own steel works and multiple Locomotive builders, we even invented the steam fairground ride, and many more firsts, however while the town has its clock makers, many of them have disappeared into the sands of time. Now with my research with over two hundred and fifty clock and watch makers shown listed in the town, perhaps the time has come to recognise Bolton’s Horological history too.

Clock and Watchmaking sounds quite a lucrative trade, however for most of the time much of the work was dispersed as a cottage industry where components were made and then finished into the final clock or watch.

It comes as no surprise that financial difficulty was common place in the late 1800’s and may makers became insolvent and faced formal bankruptcy proceedings.

In the stories of the makers that follow, the many twists and turns of life are played out from murder, intrigue, despair, imprisonment, fame celebrity and fortune.


The Lee Family – Boltons watchmaking family.

The Lee Family of Bolton became synonymous with Clock and Watch Making in Bolton of the 1800’s. The Lee family dynasty, is probably the largest Clock and Watchmaking family in Bolton.

The family business started with Henry Lee (1802-1870), a Spinner, of Spring Gardens, Great Bolton, who became a clockmaker and Watch Maker.

Links Below:

Makers Directory – Listings and links to makers biographic pages.

A murder solved – During the Black Death, a Thomas Osborne the Clockmaker was slain in Bolton on 4th July 1665, he was identified as perigrinus, meaning a traveller or pilgrim and being slain suggests a violent death. The son of clockmaker Humphrey Osbourn from London. He had an apprentice but left London, and was never seen again, he may have been trying to outrun the Great Plague which was claiming a quarter of all deaths in London at the time. Coming to Bolton from London in the time of the Great Plague probably sealed his death!

He was buried a day later in the Parish Church, St Peter’s.

President Donald Trump’s Bolton Clock – from his Mar-A-Largo resort.

The stealing of a watch – a tale of murder and execution in 1798 Bolton.

Bolton’s oldest surviving clock? – The clock of St. James Church at Brindle. (Made in 1637)

Britains Most Expensive Watch, made in Bolton by Roger Smith

Bolton Parish Church Clock, one of the first in Lancashire!

J. Seddon – Bolton Wanderers Watch – The 1923 White Horse Cup Final Watch.

J.R. Smith – Bolton Wonderers Watch – The 1923 White Horse Cup Final

The Great Eastern Watch – A Bolton made watch presented to Captain Septimus Robert Welch for his work with the ship and the cable laying.

Rev G. Smith. Watch – Primitive Methodist.

The Pretoria Pit Disaster Watch – The watch that survived…

The World War One Commemorative watches – Remembering…

The World War Two Commemorative watches – Remembering…

Other Presentation Watches – Watches linked to Bolton in their presentations to people.

For Sale Section – We are delighted to be starting a new service for potential purchasers looking to buy a Bolton Clock, or a Bolton Watch. Our new Clocks and Watches For Sale section also covers other items of boltons horological interest that is for sale. The pages detail items for sale, provide links to detailed pages and link buyers and sellers together. There is no charge for this service! Please feel free to browse the interesting items on offer. The link is here.

If you have something to sell please email: boltonclockmaker@btinternet.com

Facebook – The Local History Page for Little Bolton

Facebook – The Local History Page for Ancient Bolton

Clock Repairs – A trusted repairer

Watch Repairs – A trusted repairer

The British Horological Institute (BHI) is the main training organisation in the UK. Their three year exam course is rigorous in clocks and watches. They also have links to qualified members.

The Worshipful Company of Clockmakers is the oldest clockmaking “guild” in the world, founded in 1631 and still going strong. Amongst other things it maintains a superb FREE clock and watch museum in the City of London and provides prizes for top exam results at the BHI.

The Antiquarian Horological Society is a society devoted to the history of clock and watchmaking. They produce a superb and strictly edited journal and hold local and national meetings for members.

A Directory of Early Clockmakers and Apprentices. These are summary notes taken from the researches into early English clockmakers conducted by Adrian, Valerie and Anthony Finch in the years 1980-2010, with more recent modifications and addition by Adrian.

British Watch and Clockmakers’ Guild is the professional organisation for clock and watchmakers. They work hard to promote and protect the trade. If clocks is your business you should belong – it’s worth it.

Copyright – Copyright notice and other information.