Collection

Longcase clock

Collection: When modernism goes bad

Category: Furniture

Date: c.1930s

Manufacturers Location: Britain

Material: Plywood with African mahogany veneer

Dimensions: 154.5 x 22.7 x 16.1 cm

Purchase Price: Donated

Abstract:

Small, longcase or 'grandmother' clock with Art Deco numerals

Provenance:

Won by Leslie Horton at Keswick Sports, Summer 1946

Donated by the Horton family. 

Adaptions/renovations:

None 

Why it's in the Collection:

This clock was donated by the family of Leslie Horton who won it in a 220 yard dash competition at a summer sports and athletics meet in Keswick in 1946. Leslie was part of a number of professional footballers who, due to poor pay at their clubs, supplemented their income with prizes of cash or valuable objects available as prizes at local sports events. Before the Second World War Leslie played for Manchester City. He was conscripted to be a miner in the North East in 1942 where he played occasionally for Sunderland. At the end of the war Leslie signed for Carlisle United. A local news report notes that "One of Horton's noticeable assets is his speed, and this is not surprising when one learns that during the Summer months he goes in for quite a lot of sprinting at sports meetings." He would occasionally race alongside his Carlisle team mate and England international Ivor Broadis. 

The clock itself is fairly unremarkable. It is cheaply but sturdily built from solid ply with a mahogany veneer. This veneer and the modest, unornamented proportions of the clock associate it with the 'age of mahogany' in the late 18th century. Georgian designers invented what became known as the grandfather clock, which grew in size dramatically during the Victorian period. Early modernism welcomed a return to Georgian simplicity and scale with art deco reacting against the florid tendencies of both Victorian pastiche-Baroque and art nouveau. It was likely made pre-war in the 1930s, so when Leslie Hornton won this clock during the aftermath of the Second World War it might have seemed particularly precious given the restrictions enforced on furniture manufacture by the British Government through the Utility Furniture Scheme.