|Industry||Bell and clock manufacturing|
|Products||Bells, tower clocks, carillons|
Gillett & Johnston was a clockmaker and bell foundry based in Croydon, England from 1844 until 1957. Between 1844 and 1950, over 14,000 tower clocks were made at the works.The company's most successful and prominent period of activity as a bellfounder was in the 1920s and 1930s, when it was responsible for supplying many important bells and carillons for sites across Britain and around the world.
A clockmaker is an artisan who makes and/or repairs clocks. Since almost all clocks are now factory-made, most modern clockmakers only repair clocks. Modern clockmakers may be employed by jewellers, antique shops, and places devoted strictly to repairing clocks and watches. Clockmakers must be able to read blueprints and instructions for numerous types of clocks and time pieces that vary from antique clocks to modern time pieces in order to fix and make clocks or watches. The trade requires fine motor coordination as clockmakers must frequently work on devices with small gears and fine machinery.
Bellfounding is the casting of bells in a foundry for use in churches, clocks, and public buildings. The term also usually includes the tuning of the bell.
Croydon is a metropolitan district and a large town in south London, England, 9.4 miles (15.1 km) south of Charing Cross. The principal settlement in the London Borough of Croydon, it is one of the largest commercial districts outside Central London, with an extensive shopping district and night-time economy.
A successor company continues operation in Bletchingley, Surrey, under the Gillett & Johnston name, engaged in clock-making and clock and carillon repair.
Bletchingley is a village in Surrey, England. It is on the A25 road to the east of Redhill and to the west of Godstone, has a conservation area with medieval buildings and is mostly on a wide escarpment of the Greensand Ridge, which is followed by the Greensand Way.
The company traced its roots to a clockmaking business established by William Gillett in Hadlow, Kent, in the early 19th century. In 1837, Gillett moved his business to Clerkenwell, London; and in 1844 to the site in what later became known as Union Road, Thornton Heath, Croydon, which would remain its home for the next 113 years. Charles Bland became a partner in 1854, and the company subsequently traded as Gillett & Bland. In 1877, Arthur A. Johnston (c.1851–1916) bought a partnership, and shortly afterwards extended the company's output by establishing a bell foundry. The business became known as Gillett, Bland & Co until Bland's death in c.1884, when the name was changed to Gillett & Co. The name Gillett & Johnston seems to have been used from around 1887.
Hadlow is a village in the Medway valley, near Tonbridge, Kent, England. It is in the Tonbridge and Malling district. The Saxon name for the settlement was Haeselholte. The Domesday Book records it as Haslow and in the Middle Ages it became Hadloe and then Hadlow.
Clerkenwell is an area of central London, England. The area includes the sub-district of Finsbury.
Thornton Heath is an area of South London, England, within the London Borough of Croydon and the historic county of Surrey. It is 7.2 miles (11.6 km) south of Charing Cross.
Arthur Johnston's son, Cyril Frederick Johnston (1884–1950), joined the company in 1902, became a partner in 1907, and took over the firm following his father's death in 1916.He developed an interest in the theory of bell-tuning, and greatly expanded the bellfounding side of the business. In 1905 he redeveloped the works, and installed a large vertical tuning lathe. He was particularly interested in the manufacture of carillons, which presented special problems of tuning distinct from those of church bells.
A carillon is a musical instrument that is typically housed in the bell tower (belfry) of a church or municipal building. The instrument consists of at least 23 cast bronze, cup-shaped bells, which are played serially to produce a melody, or sounded together to play a chord. A traditional manual carillon is played by striking a keyboard – the stick-like keys of which are called batons – with the fists, and by pressing the keys of a pedal keyboard with the feet. The keys mechanically activate levers and wires that connect to metal clappers that strike the inside of the bells, allowing the performer on the bells, or carillonneur/carillonist to vary the intensity of the note according to the force applied to the key.
During the First World War, the factory suspended its regular business and became involved in the manufacture of munitions, employing over 1,250 men and women.
The firm became a limited liability company in 1925, initially trading as the Croydon Bell Foundry Ltd (although the name "Gillett and Johnston" still appeared on bells).It reverted to the name Gillett & Johnston Ltd in 1930.
A limited liability company (LLC) is the US-specific form of a private limited company. It is a business structure that can combine the pass-through taxation of a partnership or sole proprietorship with the limited liability of a corporation. An LLC is not a corporation under state law; it is a legal form of a company that provides limited liability to its owners in many jurisdictions. LLCs are well known for the flexibility that they provide to business owners; depending on the situation, an LLC may elect to use corporate tax rules instead of being treated as a partnership, and, under certain circumstances, LLCs may be organized as not-for-profit. In certain U.S. states, businesses that provide professional services requiring a state professional license, such as legal or medical services, may not be allowed to form an LLC but may be required to form a similar entity called a professional limited liability company (PLLC).
Cyril Johnston resigned as managing director in 1948, following disagreements over company policy, and died suddenly two years later in 1950.Following his departure, Henry Michael Howard took over, and some bells were cast in his name. The business also now diversified into other engineering activities, and new subsidiaries (Microcastings Ltd and Bourdon Tools Ltd) were established. However, it experienced financial difficulties, caused in part by changing architectural tastes, and a falling-off in demand for traditional tower clocks and cast bells. In 1957 the business was taken into receivership and the works were closed down.
The business was sold in 1958 to the Bath Portland Group, which already owned Synchronome, a rival office clockmaking company.For a few years, the tower clock side was established in Wembley as Gillett-Johnston Clocks Ltd. In 1962 it was bought by Cecil Hector Coombes (d. 1972), who had previously worked for Gillett & Johnston in Croydon. He returned the firm to Croydon in 1963 as Gillett and Johnston (Croydon) Ltd, basing it first in Clarendon Road (1963–1970), and then in Sanderstead Road (1970–2012). In 2012 the company moved to new premises in Bletchingley, Surrey. It remains in the Coombes family, and undertakes clockmaking, and the restoration and maintenance of tower clocks, carillons and bells.
The company occupied the same site in Union Road, off Whitehorse Road, Thornton Heath, Croydon, from 1844 until the closure of the works in 1957. In 1868 a tall clock tower was built as a "working advertisement", and to provide a facility in which newly cast bells could be tested: this became a prominent local landmark.Each of the clockfaces was different and unique. A carillon manufactured by the company was installed in the tower in 1920. After the company's closure in 1957, the premises were given over to other industrial uses. The main buildings, including the clock tower, were eventually demolished in 1997, the clockfaces having been removed and placed in storage. After some years standing vacant, part of the foundry building found a new purchaser in 2003 to become a church of the Emmanuel Inspirational Church of God. The greater part of the site is now occupied by a self-storage facility.
The "Mail Coach" pub on the corner of Union Road and Whitehorse Road was renamed "Ye Olde Clocktower" in memory of the firm and its works.
Surviving records of the foundry include a register of bells cast, 1877–1919; notes relating to work on bells, 1879–1907; and 17 volumes of bell tuning books, 1907–1951. They are now held at the Museum of Croydon (ref. AR 1).
The Whitechapel Bell Foundry was a business in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. At the time of the closure of its Whitechapel premises, it was the oldest manufacturing company in Great Britain. The bell foundry primarily made church bells and their fittings and accessories, although it also provided single tolling bells, carillon bells and handbells. The foundry was notable for being the original manufacturer of the Liberty Bell, a famous non-religious symbol of United States independence, and for re-casting Big Ben, which rings from the north clock tower at the Houses of Parliament in London.
Campanology is the study of bells. It encompasses the technology of bells – how they are cast, tuned, rung, and sounded – as well as the history, methods, and traditions of bell-ringing as an art.
Twyford is a village and civil parish in the Aylesbury Vale district of Buckinghamshire, England. It is about 2 miles (3 km) west of Steeple Claydon and 4 miles (6.4 km) northeast of Bicester in Oxfordshire.
John Taylor & Co, commonly known as Taylor's Bell Foundry, Taylor's of Loughborough, or simply Taylor's, is the world's largest working bell foundry. It is in Loughborough, in the Charnwood borough of Leicestershire, England. The business originated in the 14th century and became Taylor's after the Taylor family took over in 1784.
Metropolitan United Church is a historic Neo-Gothic style church in downtown Toronto, Ontario, Canada. It is one of the largest and most prominent churches of the United Church of Canada. It is located at 56 Queen Street East, between Bond and Church streets, in Toronto's Garden District.
Royal Eijsbouts is a bell foundry located in Asten, Netherlands.
Soldiers' Tower is a bell and clock tower at the University of Toronto that commemorates members of the university who served in the World Wars. Designed by architects Henry Sproatt and Ernest Ross Rolph, the Gothic Revival tower stands at 143 feet tall and houses a carillon of 51 bells. The University of Toronto is the only Canadian university with a functioning carillon.
A carillon-like instrument with fewer than 23 bells is called a chime.
There were two Meneely bell founderies, based on either side of the Hudson River in New York state.
François Hemony and his brother Pieter, Pierre, or Peter Hemony (1619-1680) were the greatest carillon bell founders in the history of the Low Countries. They developed the carillon, in collaboration with Jacob van Eyck, into a full-fledged musical instrument by casting the first tuned carillon in 1644.
Royal Bellfounders Petit & Fritsen, located in Aarle-Rixtel, the Netherlands, is a former foundry, one of the oldest family-owned businesses in the Netherlands, with the foundry dating back to 1660.
Cleveland Tower is a tower and carillon on the campus of Princeton University. Inspired by Boston College's Gasson Hall, the Ralph Adams Cram design is one of the defining architectural features of the Collegiate Gothic Graduate College. The tower was built in 1913 as a memorial to former university trustee and U.S. President Grover Cleveland. A bust of the former president is the centerpiece of the grand chamber at the tower's ground level.
The Bilbie family were bell founders and clockmakers based initially in Chew Stoke, Somerset and later at Cullompton, Devon in south-west England from the late 17th century to the early 19th century.
Montreal Clock Tower is located in Quai de l'Horloge, originally called the Victoria Pier, in the Old Port of Montreal in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
Richard Phelps (c.1670–1738) was born in Avebury, Wiltshire, England. Phelps was a bell-founder, or a maker of bells, primarily for churches. He was master of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London from 1701 to 1738, and is best known for his large bell, Great Tom, in the steeple of St Paul's Cathedral in London, England. The foundry, in operation since at least 1570, was listed by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest manufacturing company in Great Britain.
The Administration Building is a structure on the campus of Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. It was one of the original buildings on the campus, and is modeled after the Universidad de Alcala de Henares in Alcalá de Henares, Spain. The Admin building has three floors and a basement and includes twin bell towers, double wings, and a courtyard. Some of the offices housed in the building include the Chancellor's Office, President's Office and Board of Regents Office.