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PUBLISHED: 06:30 22 February 2020 | UPDATED: 08:08 22 February 2020

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Aerial appearance of Metamec accumulation bulb at Dereham. Photo : Archant Library

In a little shed, neatly tucked abroad in the aback garden of a mid Norfolk home, is a tiny allowance accepted artlessly as the workshop.

For added than 25 years, Dereham man Richard Walker has tinkered abroad at tens of bags of clocks and watches, abating them aback to their much-loved above glory.

But there is one accomplish in accurate which keeps his buzz campanology with new business – Metamec.

What began as an adjunct of the appliance manufacturers Jentique in about 1941 bound become an all-embracing ambassador of calm clocks and, admitting shutting its doors for the final time during the mid 1980s, has retained its acclaimed reputation.

Metamec was already the better alarm maker in the United Kingdom.

At its peak, during the 1960s and 70s, added than 750 advisers produced 25,000 clocks per ceremony from its address in the bazaar boondocks of Dereham. And during the activity amount of the company, about 350 altered models of alarm were developed and sold.

But abominably its success began to booty a abrupt decline, abhorrent primarily on the assimilation of the German alarm industry and imports from the Far East, and Metamec went into receivership.

READ MORE: Iconic boondocks centre building set to reopen to the accessible with new exhibitions including Metamec clocks.

Mr Walker, who now fixes Metamec clocks for a living, remembers that acute day well, as able-bodied as abounding added association who still alive in and about the boondocks today. They call images of men and women arrant in the artery afterwards accepting the account aback in December 1984.

The 74-year-old, of Tipton Close, Toftwood, formed in abounding altered departments aural the company. He said: “I bethink talking to abounding accompany and allurement them if they knew if article was activity to happen.

“When we were told the account I asked myself ‘what am I activity to do now’ and anticipation about accomplishing my own business – but that didn’t assignment out.

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“Around 80 bodies were kept on but added than 600 bodies absent their jobs that day.”

Mr Walker formed as a artisan for the aliment of clocks which came aback to the branch beneath guarantee, either from shops or customers, and he would fix about 30 a day. Now he is able to booty his time and can absorb up to two canicule alive on a distinct item.

The grandfathering of two, who will be adulatory his aureate bells ceremony to wife Pauline this August, was one of the advantageous few who retained his job back Metamec was purchased in January 1985 by FKI of Halifax, West Yorkshire.

The aggregation connected to use the name until 1993, until the armpit was taken over by Ross Consumer Electronics afore its cease in 1994.

By that point, Mr Walker had been fabricated bombastic and reemployed there three times, but that year the factory’s doors bankrupt for good.

“Before I left, I bought endless of banal which was actuality awash off – workbenches, filing cabinets, additional parts. It’s been in my branch actuality anytime since.

“The affair with Metamec is that they were such acceptable clocks and now they accept become collectables and, for me personally, I don’t appetite to let that die. I appetite to accumulate the Metamec name going.”

READ MORE: Spotlight on Dereham’s automated heritage.

The name, which is acquired from “metal-work and mechanics”, is acclaimed for bearing clocks to an awfully aerial standard.

Its aboriginal archetypal was a mains-powered crimson alarm numbered 701 and produced in about 1947. It was the alpha of an absorbing branch amplification that saw the acquirement of new machines to acquiesce the business to actualize its own movements, rather than acceptation from added alarm companies.

As able-bodied as 701, Metamec became a architect of the iconic Sunburst in chrome and teak but Mr Walker’s favourite is artlessly accepted as Man with Windmill, and it takes pride of abode acquainted in to the bank in his workshop.

However his favourite affair to fix may appear as a abruptness – automated watches is area his affection lies, as he spent bristles years in Norwich commutual an apprenticeship in horology from 1963 to 1968. Admitting this, he said he had “fond memories” of alive at Metamec.


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“Most of the bodies were absolutely affable and you would accept chats with them. Occasionally there would be some agitated of bodies accomplishing wrong.

“They acclimated to accept night about-face agents but several hundred clocks would sometimes go missing on those accouterment so they anon chock-full that. There would additionally be raffles, Christmas dos – those were acceptable times.”

Speaking about changes aural Dereham back the cease of the factory, Mr Walker, who was built-in in Scole, abreast Diss, declared it as a already “thriving town” afterwards affective there in 1970.

Since the factory’s closure, Mr Walker has repaired clocks and watches from about the angel including places such as Australia, the USA and Sweden.

Ironically though, he actual rarely picks up on the babble of a active alarm or alike its chimes.

“When I aboriginal started acclimation clocks, anybody was allurement to acquaintance me,” he said.

“They acclimated to arena me to ask if would I attending at their alarm and I would say yes if you accelerate it to me.”

· Do you accept memories of alive at Metamec? Please address in to the Letters Editor at Archant Norfolk, Breckland Business Centre, Saint Withburga Lane, Dereham, NR19 1FD or email [email protected] or [email protected]

Wedding ability and a blessed assignment place, what are your memories of Metamec?

The branch was broken bottomward in the 2000s and replaced with houses now anchored on the alley called in anamnesis of the site’s absorbing history – Metamec Drive.

From all corners of the angel there are abounding memories associated with the alarm makers and readers accept been administration a few of their own.

Rop Honnor, now lives in one of the homes on the above branch armpit in Dereham. He said: “There is a agreement in our accomplishments preventing us from authoritative or affairs clocks from the premises.”

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Vivien Jack formed at the branch in the 1960s afore actuality confused beyond the alley to assignment in the carriage appointment at Jentique. She added: “My dad, Jimmy Head, was a aliment architect at both factories.”

Lynda Barnes, who now lives in Ireland, said: “I accept a Metamec alarm which is still activity strong.”

Vic George said: “My aunts, Cissie and Jean Murray formed there, one at Metamec the added at Jentique.

“Our bells presents from them comprised Metamec clock, Jentique table and four chairs and a Jentique sideboard. Technically abnormal but to all intents and purposes they were perfect.”

Keith Odgers, of Dereham, said: “I was built-in in London and my nan and granddad had a Metamec clock. Never anticipation I would move to Dereham in the 70s and alive in walking ambit of the Metamec factory. I never knew what happened to the clock.”

Jenny Hewitt, of Norwich, formed on the bang pressers back she larboard academy in 1965. She said: “Lovely blessed canicule alive with all the bodies – Pat Howes, Val Savory, Betty Howard, Susan Swann, and abounding more.”

Jackie Venables, of Norwich, said: “I formed at the printers who printed the alarm faces, L. F. Everett & Sons.”

Beverley Letchford, who now lives in New Zealand, added: “My husband, John Letchford, formed there in the backward 60s for a while. We had a Metamec alarm which came to New Zealand with us.”

Gail Mystic, of Watton, said: “I formed there 1976 to 1979. It was a acceptable job. We use to go Norfolk Kitchen cafeteria times – they were the days.”

Maggie Chapman added: “Memories included alive with lots of admirable people. One appropriate adult back I aboriginal started Metamec – her name was Rosalind – she mothered me and brought me an angel in every day.

“Fridays our accomplishment were brought annular in the morning to every administration in little amber envelopes aloof in time to airing into boondocks on cafeteria breach to absorb some in Woolworths.”

Linda George said: ” I formed in accumulation and fabricated endless of friends. It was consistently a blessed abode to be and anybody got on. We acclimated to sing songs while we formed and that agency beatitude all day and every day.”

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