King's College London
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Stories of Strand-Aldwych

Edward John Dent

Our final clockmaker is Edward John Dent, who produced chronometers, watches, and clocktower movements on the West Strand from the 1830s to his death in 1853. Dent’s most famous creation is none other than the clock movement in Elizabeth Tower- also known as Big Ben, which is still used and maintained today. Yet Dent also produced a dizzying variety of clocks which operated at the heart of Victorian science and empire, including the 1831 chronometer which accompanied HMS Beagle, his own 1843 Dipleidoscope for measuring true noon, the 1844 Royal Exchange clock tower, the ~1850 chronometer which accompanied David Livingstone to Africa, and a tower clock for the Great Exhibition of 1851 which was later repurposed as the clocktower of King’s Cross Station. `Dent’s workshop at 82 Strand.`[1]`Dent’s workshop at 82 Strand.`[1] `Dent’s workshop at 82 Strand.`[1]`Dent’s workshop at 82 Strand.`[1]

Most, if not all of these were manufactured on the Strand, including his workshops at 82, 84, 61, and 64 Strand on the now-defunct George Court and Salisbury Street. Dent truly began his career in 1830 when he established a partnership at 84 Strand with John Roger Arnold: himself the son of the father of chronometers, John Arnold. Although this partnership would dissolve in 1840, Dent went on to advance British clock making techniques across a wide array of clock types. Furthermore, Dent’s timepieces would soon travel the globe in the hands of innumerable travellers, each one a product of the Strand. For those back in London, the timely peels of Big Ben would count the hours for thousands, if not millions of people- each tick and each tock borne out of the Strand.

Written by Spencer Drake `Turret Clock.`[2]`Turret Clock.`[2]

 

 

[1] 82 Strand, scanned from V. Mercer, Edward John Dent and his Successors (London 1977), p. 134 and p. 270.

[2] The Great International Exhibition 1851 Dent’s Turret Clock, scanned from V. Mercer, Edward John Dent and his Successors (London 1977), p. 268.

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