Restoring clocks hundreds of years old and worth millions of pounds, Edlesborough’s James Chadburn is one of the most sought after horologists in the country.
Such is the quality of his craftmanship, he once restored a clock already worth £1million for a client, who then sold it for £2.2million at auction.
James said: “Clocks are a fantastic investment. Owning a Thomas Tompion clock is like owning a Rembrandt.
“You think people like Richard Branson are rich? They’ve never known wealth.
“Tompion’s clocks went for £600 each in his day. To give you an idea of how much that is today, you could buy a village for £400.”
In 2009, James was made a fellow of the British Horological Institute – an honour bestowed by a council on individuals nominated for exceeding their basic qualification.
Originally a cabinet maker, James discovered his passion for clocks when working on the casing of one over 25 years ago.
He said: “I was just mesmerised by the movements. I couldn’t stand woodwork any more after that.”
James can restore clocks so that the repair work is untraceable – bringing clocks to a perfectly as-new condition.
Some of the machinery in his workshop is incomprehensibly intricate. His Aciera F1 can split a human hair lengthways 16 times.
As well as restoring clocks for a living, James collects them and currently has 67 historic instruments in his home.
The 54-year-old also works as an advisor for insurers and researchers, and his clocks have even featured on the silver screen.
When Mary Norton’s much-loved children’s book The Borrowers was adapted for the big screen in 1997, film-makers turned to James for advice.
He said: “They pieced together family documents and there was a grandfather clock constantly mentioned that her mother absolutely idolised.
“They contacted me for a clock of the correct period to use, which I supplied. The scene was actually filmed in my house.”
James also owns a Tompion piece made around 1670 that is one of only two musical clocks still in existence from the 17th century.
He wasn’t impressed that an American bought it at Sotheby’s in 1990, so recently purchased it himself to bring it back from California.
He said: “It’s criminal that museums can’t afford to keep clocks of national importance in this country.
“I hope it stays with us for quite some considerable years. This one will stay here as long as I’m alive.”
To get in touch with James, email firstname.lastname@example.org.