Grandmother tracks down historic Sunderland clock thanks to Echo story

A grandmother has managed to track down a piece of history which she believes was made by her ancestors - all thanks to the Echo.

Tuesday, 6th September 2016, 3:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th September 2016, 1:47 pm
Gwen Young and Lynda Clark with the Gowlands clock
Gwen Young and Lynda Clark with the Gowlands clock

We reported earlier this year that one of Sunderland’s oldest clocks was set to fetch hundreds of pounds at auction.

The so-called bracket clock is ‘signed’ on the back and the front ‘Gowlands Sunderland’ and was made during the reign of King George III, between 1760 and 1820.

The Gowland's clock

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And after seeing our story on the item going under the hammer, Sunderland-born Lynda Clark was determined to obtain it as she believes it was made by ancestors of hers.

“I was born in Cairo Street in Sunderland in 1947,” explained Lynda, who now lives in Waterfoot, a village south of Glasgow in Scotland.

“At the age of three my Dad acquired a new job and moved the family to Scotland where I have lived ever since.

“I have maintained close ties with Sunderland and have visited, approximately annually, all of my life as I have always had relatives here.

The Gowland's clock

“My great, great, great, great maternal grandfather was Clement Gowland who was a clockmaker in Sunderland.

“His extended family made not only clocks but jewellery, silverware and optical equipment.

“I and my family have purchased a number of items made by the Gowlands including grandfather clocks, pocket watches, binoculars, silver spoons and a barometer.”
After seeing that the clock was going under the hammer, Lynda was determined to make it hers, phoning in a bid to Reeman Dansie Auctions in Colchester, in Essex.

“I ended up paying £800 to get it,” said Lynda, whose cousin Gwen Young, 63, lives in Tunstall in Sunderland.

The Gowland's clock

“The Echo article had said it was expected to go for £300 to £500 and I decided the most I would go up to would be £1,000.

“It’s twice the size I expected it to be and three times the weight, but I’ve got it on my mantlepiece now.”

According to G.H.Baillie’s Watchmakers & Clockmakers of the World, Clement Gowland was a watchmaker in Sunderland between 1780 and 1800 although members of Mr Gowland’s family were running the business after those dates. From around 1825 until around 1840, William Gowland and his brother Clement were running the business and for a brief period in the 1830s their sister, Ann,was also a partner. In 1842, William Gowland announced in an advertisement that he was leaving Sunderland and offered a 20% discount on the goods at his shop in High Street, Sunderland.

The Gowlands were in business in Sunderland High Street, when Sunderland’s greatest artist, Clarkson Stanfield, was born nearby on December 3, 1793, above a shop, which then stood on the eastern corner of Playhouse Lane, later Drury Lane, where it joined Sunderland High Street.

The Gowland's clock

Despite her happiness at getting the clock, Lynda, mum to Michael, 40, and Carolyn, and a grandmother of six, admitted there is still some uncertainty whether it was actually made by a relative of hers.

“I am really thrilled with the clock although there is debate over who made it,” she said.

“It could have been Clement, who is in my direct line, yet he normally signed his products ‘Clement Gowland’.

“This clock is signed ‘Gowland’s’ on the face and ‘Gowlands’ on the back which might suggest it was made by his sons, my great, great, great, great uncles.

“In spite of many clues it is impossible to accurately date the clock which was undoubtedly made on the cusp of the business passing to the sons.”