Enfield Clock Company Ltd (Smiths Enfield)

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Enfield Clock Company (London) Ltd

The Enfield Clock Company (London) Ltd was formed in 1929, by Carl Schatz, J W Roles, Charles Baxter Snr and F H Chisholm at Pretoria Road, Edmonton London N18.

Before the name could be used, the Enfield Cycle company had to grant permission for the use of the name. They agreed providing that the clocks were of the same high quality as their bicycles.

The first machinery was shipped over from the Badische Uhrenfabrik, in Guttenbach, Germany, owned by Schatz, together with a team of 14 from Germany (10 men 4 women), to set the machines up and help with the initial manufacturing. Also shipped were a quantity of clock parts such as plates, wheels pinions etc. so that assembly could be started straight away while the assembly line came up to speed. The first clocks were sold in 1932.

The company used modern assembly line techniques to manufacture and assemble their clock movements, based on the American system of automated factories. The magazine, ‘British Clock Manufacturer’ in 1933 stated that the factory consisted of, …batteries of automatics and Mikrons for turning and pinion cutting.

The clocks were originally sold for wholesale and export only and they were also selling movements only to shops and they were casing them up themselves.

The Enfield Clock Company made a great thing of the fact that the clocks were ‘British made’. Gongs were supplied by Wagner in Whitechapel, Dials from Beta Manufacturers.

By 1932, they started making their own bezels and had their own chrome plating Shop.

In 1933, the company was finding it difficult to compete on price so the company was sold to Smiths Industries. This led to the world famous ‘Smiths Enfield’ clocks.

In 1933/4 the weekly production figures:-

1,200 striking movements

800 Westminster chime movements

200 Westminster and Whittington chime movements

2000 30 hour 3 ½" drum movements

About this time every English company was finding that cash flow was very tight and many companies went bankrupt. The Enfield plant also had very tight budgets, and had to sell all the movements made each week to pay wage bills and other expenses. At the time they had a staff of 140.

In 1935 they started to produce grandfather movements driven by 3 chrome cased weights and with 30cm dials with chrome trim. Chrome was very much the ‘in’ style of the time. They later produced Grandmother chime movements and strike wall regulator movements The growth and developments of the company about this time were entirely due to Fredie Kienzler and his chief designer and toolmaker.

About this time they introduced a 53mm (2") diameter movement and started making small chrome timepieces and alarms at up to 2000 pieces a week. These small movements were very solid and high quality. They were used by the airforce in the war as flame markers.

1935/6 introduced a striking 14 day clock in a Jacobean Oak case. The firm Dupont Bros placed an order for 25,000 of these clocks, so putting the company on a more established footing. About this time the Enfield Strike range was established as well as the De Luxe range of Westminster chimes known as the ‘Enfield Royal’ named after the Royal Dukes. These clocks had a 5 year Guarantee and were better finished with damascened plates and chromed pendulum bob and gong rods. The underslung rods allowed for a slimmer case.

1939, and the outbreak of war, the factory was turned over to war time production and any remaining German staff were detained. Clock production did not stop completely but material shortages were a major problem. American machines were installed on the lend/lease program and the few clocks produced were mainly for the NAAFI. The main production of the factory was fuses and flame markers etc for the armed forces.

After war, American machines were allowed to be kept and production of the 53mm movement re-commenced. Production was later moved to Smiths factory at Cricklewood and then later to their Welsh factory about 1955.

As well as clocks the Welsh factory also produced watch cases in base metal with production figures reaching 22,000 a week. They also had a repair dept where clocks were serviced.

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