The Smiths of Derby – A Journey Through Time, is the latest family business book that has been inducted into The Heritage Library in London.
John Smith & Sons, Midland Clockworks, Derby is a legend that may be seen on any number of clocks, up and down the country, both turret clocks and domestic ones. It is the signature of a versatile and distinguished clock manufacturing company renowned the world over which was founded in Derby in the late 1840’s by an ex-employee of John Whitehurst III, great nephew of one of England’s greatest clockmakers, and one of whose tradition John Smith & Sons – today Smith of Derby Ltd – are the proud continuators through five generations.
The firm is still family owned and still makes turret clocks, and also maintains 4,500 existing installations. Under the Whitehurst imprimateur it also once again makes prestige clocks to special order and the firm has innovated greatly in the creation of public clocks and other features as works of art. Smith of Derby has also recently pioneered Islamic prayer clocks, and has recently completed the largest mechanical public clock installation in the world at Ganzhou, China.
This book seeks to chronicle over 160 years of achievement both of firm and family. This is the story of a Derby clockmaking family’s rise from simple Victorian origins to become one of the world’s largest, most celebrated and innovative horological firms. It varies from historic beginnings through family involvement, apprenticeships and the lives of itinerant clockmakers. It covers the restructuring of the firm and the importance of retaining traditional turret clock skills coupled with marketing and the developing of exports.
Factual, but at times funny, it is a good read.
As Ben Fowler, Managing Director of WPS and co-founder of The Heritage Library concludes, “This is another example of a pioneering family that have created a significant legacy over the generations that reaches all corners of the world. A real journey through time and a great example of a family business that continues to embrace change, innovate and create clocks around the world and a worthy addition to the collection.”
About The Heritage Library
The Heritage Library is a collection of family business books that is being collated by Western Pension Solutions (‘WPS’) and Family Business United (‘FBU’) to create something unique and in our eyes very special, a library of books that reflect the very nature of family business Britain. These books are held in a central archive in London and will be made available by appointment for other family firms in due course.
The Heritage Library seeks to recognise the endeavours of generations of families that have been in business and left a real legacy. In the shape of their books we are delighted to collate something special and to make it available for other families to peruse, learn from and see how others have catalogued their history for generations to come. Having access to the stories that have helped shape family firms for generations, and continue to provide the raison d’etre and values behind many family businesses today, we felt obliged to do something to capture the real essence of what makes family businesses different. As such, it is a real privilege to reflect on the journeys that these families have been on too and to create a collection that otherwise may be lost forever in the new digital world in which we live today.
Western Pension Solutions
1 King’s Arms Yard
+44 (0)20 7726 2718
WESTERN PENSION SOLUTIONS LIMITED IS A LIMITED COMPANY REGISTERED IN ENGLAND. COMPANY REGISTRATION NO. 11717816.
REGISTERED OFFICE: VESTEY HOLDINGS LTD,
29 ULLSWATER CRESCENT, COULSDON, SURREY, CR5 2HR.
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