Wednesday, 25 November 2015

John Walker


This header to the current John Walker website aptly celebrates a trading heritage which stretches back over 185 years – not bad going!  

Britten’s entry is: 1836-d.1880; 40 Princes St, Leicester Sq 1836-47(dir); No 35 in 1838 (dir); No 48 in 1840 (Bri); 1849-67 (dir); afterwards 68 Cornhill (Bri); 1861-75 (dir); & 230 Regent St 1864-75 (dir); 76 Strand 1871-5 (dir); chronom. maker; inventor & manfr the crystal case watch, prize medals 1862, 1867; & railways guard’s watch 1875, advts (dir) 

Around 1906 the Firm was located at 1 South Molton Street and moved to 64 South Molton Street in 1981 – this being the current location of what is now a service/repair-based business. 

After the founding John’s death, the business became a limited liability company.  John’s son, Frederick, sold the business to Stephen Martin – whose descendant, also Steve, is the current proprietor. 

The firm’s watch products ranged over a wide spectrum of quality from mundane timepieces to chronometers/repeaters.  The association with the railways included, as well as the supply of guards’ watches, maintenance of a huge number of station-mounted, Walker-signed clocks – so the name had a good chance of being subliminally burnt into the nation's horological consciousness. 

This is the text of an advertisement from The Times, 1878:

WALKER’S CRYSTAL CASE WATCHES.- Prize Medals-London 1862; Paris 1867.-John Walker, Watch and Clock Manufacturer, 77 Cornhill; 230 Regent-street; and 76 Strand.  Gold keyless half chronometers, from £31 10s; gold lever watches, from £12 12s; ladies’ gold watches, from £6 6s; silver lever watches, from £5 5s; silver watches for youths, from £3 3s.  Price list free. 

Walker’s business had also come to be ‘advertised’ in the editorial of the paper with its coverage of his civil action against the firm of Milner & Son in February 1866.  Milner manufactured safes that were supposed to be thief-proof.  Walker sued them because a year earlier the Milner safe at his Cornhill premises was easily cracked and £6,000 worth of stock stolen, (including 465 watches).  Walker’s displeasure was heightened by Police assertions that the shop’s security practices were inadequate, that he, personally, was negligent.  I would imagine that he became apoplectic when his action failed on the grounds that the short space of time taken to break into the safe was not the central cause of his loss.  (The ringleaders of the thieves themselves had already been sentenced to twenty years' penal servitude). 

This is an example of the ready availability of John Walker movements on eBay nowadays:
 
 
Here are some sample London movement numbers: 


Year

Movement #

Notes

1865

6888

 

 

8401

68 Cornhill/230 Regent St

 

11088

68 Cornhill/230 Regent St

1875

15073

 

1881

17968

230 Regent St

1886

20456

77 Cornhill/230 Regent St

1899

22224

127 Fenchurch St/230 Regent St

1905

22642

63 Bond St/127 Fenchurch St

These two are Coventry-sourced: 

Year
Movement #
Notes
1900
138730
127 Fenchurch St
1902
76055
127 Fenchurch St/230 Regent St

 

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