Many biographies have been written of successful men who began life under the poorest conditions and while this sketch, which consists of more facts than fiction, might appear like repeating an old story ...
From Pit to Palace
From Pit to Palace: A Romantic Autobiography by James J Lawler. The Palace Publishing Company, New York (1906).
Just came across this strange book. It can be read or downloaded on the Internet Archive website. It's subtitle is 'A Romantic Autobiography' and is set in Wylam and Heddon on the Wall. It may well be an autobiography of the author, James J Lawler, but then why is the hero of the story called James Raymond? I can find neither of these named individuals in local records. The author's preface only provides this clue (the emphasis is mine):
Although many recognisable events, descriptions and named people do occur in the book there are also many errors. They could of course be put down to a poor memory of past events and places. There is also much that smacks of fabrication and a huge desire to set the hero in the best possible light. If it is an autobiography it is certainly high on the big-headed side and there is little modesty.
Isaac Jackson clocks
Thanks to Philip Campo who contacted me about the blog, Canny Wylam, I have been able to see two examples of skeletal clocks made by the Wylam clock-maker, Isaac Jackson.
By any chance was 'the clock te gan forever' a skeletal clock? If so, I can certainly point you as to the whereabouts. My grandfather was a lover of skeletal clocks....and 2 of Isaac's pieces are within our family.
One of the clocks originally came from Wylam Church. My Grandfather had it agreed with the church for £200 back in the 80s, however the church decided to auction it instead and I believe he ended up paying more like £1500 at Christies auction rooms. This clock has a globe in the centre and rotates as the day goes by.....no doubt to the turn of the earth as I'm sure Isaac wouldn't have it any other way.
I also have to thank Philip Campo for the copy below of a local newpaper article recording the clock's restoration.
One of Jackson's clocks was for a time in Ovingham as it is mentioned in an article about the village in Archaeologia Aeliana, v5 p.347 (1861):
"These bring us into modem times; and we may venture to note the pleasure with which we view Mr. Bigge's admirable specimen of the clocks manufactured by a neighbouring pitman, Isaac Jackson, of Wylam. It is a marvel of accuracy."
John Frederic Bigge (1814–1885, 6th son of Charles William Bigge, Esq of Linden, Northumberland) was vicar of Ovingham & later Stamfordham. The Jackson clock mentioned in the report was presumably in the Ovingham Rectory.
A photo of the long-case regulator clock made by Isaac Jackson for Robert Stephenson's Locomotive Works in 1858 and now in the National Railway Museum is shown in Tale of the Model Steam Locomotive at Close House.