The Museum of Timekeeping at Upton Hall near Newark is in the hands of a new executive team with Viscount Alan Midleton having been elected chairman, and being joined by Dawn Barnes as Chief Operations Manager and John Hope as Chief Development Officer.
For Viscount Midleton, history is repeating itself as he was the first chairman when the museum was formed in 1994 as the British Horological Museum Trust. The Trust was set up by the British Horological Institute when it gifted to the nation, its collection of clocks, watches, other timekeeping items and over 10,000 books, journals and other literature on horology, accumulated over its 136 years history. The current collection is probably the most comprehensive in the UK outside of London whilst the Library within the top three in Europe and top ten worldwide. The name changed when the trustees of the museum decided to alter the status to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, and the Museum of Timekeeping came into being in January 2018
In addition to his first role as chairman Alan also took on the position of curator and went on to join the BBC Antiques Road Show as its clock and watch expert from 1995 to 2006.
“I found it really interesting but most of the other experts were dealers and much more experienced at valuing items. I was good at identifying them but had to be careful about indicating a price,” he said. Having joined the Horological Institute back in 1973 when still at college Alan remains one of the most knowledgeable on the subject worldwide.
Dawn Barnes brings financial and management experience from a period with Natwest followed by a career in the Pharmaceutical Industry.
“I initially came here for a month to cover for a manager who had left, but the museum has a way of drawing people in and am really excited about the future here. The collection is remarkable and almost everything revolves around time these days but it was less important in the past.
“Our earliest 17th century clocks on display only had hour hands as they were accurate within 45 minutes a day. Amazingly within 20 years clocks were transformed to an accuracy within seconds. We also relate the story of Yorkshire-born clockmaker John Harrison, who saved thousands of lives at sea with his identification of Longitude and development of the chronometer.”
The third member of the trio, John Hope, winner of Newark and Sherwood 2016 Business Person of the Year award, brings a wealth of marketing and fundraising expertise. An ambitious development plan has been put together to make the museum financially independent within three years.
He said: “We are building partnerships with other attractions in order to promote the local area. This will help us to offer interesting and educational days out for groups. Funding cutbacks to the Arts is making many organisations take a more commercial view of the way in which they operate and we are no different. We have a fantastic collection housed in a glorious setting and feedback from groups is excellent. Increase in opening times will make us more accessible to the public and our ‘kids’ free policy’ swelled number during the recent holiday period.”