A wonderfully interesting primitive clock by John Ismay of Oulton, near Wigton. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
The fascinating primitive 30-hour clock illustrated here is particularly rustic and interesting. Dating from around c1715, the clock was made by John Ismay of Oulton - who possibly made it whilst he was serving his apprenticeship to John Ogden - and before he had actually finished his training. It is John Ismay's earliest surviving clock to come to light so far - pre dating any of his Wigton clocks and is an historically important clock for the region. After serving his apprenticeship under Ogden, Ismay worked with John Sanderson at Wigton and became an important member of The Wigton 'School' of Clockmaking. He made this clock using crude materials with major casting faults to both movement and dial. Ismay probably not only made the clock himself, but also engraved the dial as well. The clock is very primitive and the chapter ring markings have been so badly spaced out and poorly executed by Ismay that I find it hard to believe that he actually sold it on the open market at the time, but could have made the clock in-house for his own use. The polished dial has the verse 'Memento Mori' in the top two corners. It has a heavily built iron and brass lantern type movement. The clock is housed in a primitive oak longcase. However, originally this clock was probably caseless and made by Ismay as a wall clock to just sit on a simple wall bracket and show off its massive brass movement until a later owner decided to spend the money to house the clock in a case.
Above. Showing the wonderfully primitive 12 inch square brass dial of an interesting 30-hour wall clock by John Ismay of Oulton (near wigton), c1715. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. Showing a close-up of the John Ismay polished dial centre with cup-and-ringing, a round date calendar and very interesting moon face? Note the flawed chapter ring castings at the 35 and 45 minute markings. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above A close-up of the wonderfully interesting and primitive John Ismay chapter ring engravings including his signature 'John Ismay, Oulton Fecit' Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. The top left hand corner has cup-and-ringing with arrow head markings each side of the word 'MEMENTO'. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. The top right hand corner has cup-and-ringing with arrow head markings each side of the word 'MORI' plus a spiral engraving. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. The bottom right hand corner has cup-and-ringing which John Ismay has drilled around original casting faults and blow holes in the brass dial. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. Showing a rear view of the John Ismay iron and brass birdcage movement. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. Showing a side view of the John Ismay iron and brass birdcage movement. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Above. Showing theTop-Pate of the John Ismay movement. Typically on these early Wigton School clocks the movement is fixed on the top plate to the dial by two pins. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
Below. Showing another view of the top plate. John Ismay had originally drilled the un-used holes for the hammer stand in the wrong position and had to re-position them!. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
The Oak Case
Above. Showing the clock housed in it's primitive oak and elm case. Originally this clock was probably made by John Ismay to sit on a simple wall bracket. However, like so many of these early Wigton 'School' clocks it has been cased later. Photograph by Lee Borrett.
John Ismay was born at Thursby, a village near Wigton in Cumberland, in March 1699. He was apprenticed to John Ogden at Bowbridge in 1711, and was living in Tiffinthwaite at the time of his death in 1755. Today there are only a handful of religious versed clocks known to survive by him with the example shown here being his earliest!