Geoffrey Shryhane’s Wigan World

David Higham with his clock
David Higham with his clock

You have to smile when you consider the implications of a watch which, say the makers, will display the right time to the second for 5,000 years.

For folks buying this amazing horological tick-tock, it must be mighty reassured to know that when they reach their 2,000th birthday, the time piece on their wrist will be spot on.

It all sounds a bit boring, unlike the amazing time piece created by clock-lover David Higham of Up Holland (pictured).

It’s made from Meccano – and it took hundreds of hours to create.

And the handsome clock is a true pedigree piece even if on some days in gains or loses a second or two.

The astronomical clock not only tells the time but also the day, date, the phases of the moon and high tide in a host of ports.

David, 69, has been a Meccano enthusiast since he was nine – and admits he’s never lost interest in the different coloured little metal strips with their unique holes.

The all-singing all-dancing clock, powered by electricity, also has an amazing aspect. One of the mechanisms used on the lunar train will only make one revolution in 89,316 lunar months...that’s about 7,221 years.

He laughs:“Alas, we’ll not be here to check that fact.”

In all the clock contains 100 gears, pinions and sprockets.

David admitted: “Building it took quite a lot of patience. It’s been a real labour of love because I stripped the mechanism down several times until I arrived with a clock that suited me. Now it looks more like a skeleton clock than a gas meter.”

The clock is topped off with a painted ping-pong ball which replicates the real moon in its various phases.

The time piece also has the ability to work in reverse order...but that’s only when there’s a surge in electricity.

David added: “I’m so glad I found the delights of Meccano when I was so young. Lots of adults are still fans.”

Wigan World touched a nerve a couple of weeks ago on the subject frantic, busy, busy, busy Sundays.

The general view of readers was: “Let Sunday be like it used to be.” A dozen readers took the trouble to send in their views.

It’s true, a dozen is not a sackful, but for every one person getting in touch, hundreds of others think about it but never put pen to paper.

With shops set to open longer on Sunday, I suggested you might recall my view that Sunday has, by and large, become a day just like the six others.

The shops are frantic and the day has become just like any other working day.

“Sunday’s simply not a day of rest any more,” says Joyce Jolly of Ince. “When I was a child, Sunday was quiet and peaceful. I used to go to Sunday school in the afternoon and there were very few people on the streets.

“I used to pass a couple of pubs filled with men having a drink before going home for Sunday dinner.”

Harold Brinks of Standish had this to say: “This business of Sunday becoming just like weekdays happened over a long number of years.

“I have memories of mum cooking the dinner as dad mended my bike in the yard. The smell of the meat cooking used to drift outside and after the meal, mum used to have a nap and dad became lost in the Sunday paper.”

Grace Lambert e-mailed to lament the “loss of Sunday”. She said: “I’m on my own now and I still make Sunday a special day by not doing the washing, that kind of thing. You have to remember that the big supermarkets hadn’t arrived on the scene. There were cars, but far fewer than today.”

Ron Lapping of Wigan says: “When I was a kid, Sunday meant going to church three times a day. So really there wasn’t time to do much else. The church we attended closed and was demolished. Sad.”

When it comes to George Orwell and his Wigan book, it’s always been a case of “love it or hate it”. One thing’s certain, you can’t ignore the still-best seller, The Road to Wigan Pier.

Perhaps I’m in a minority when I praise Orwell’s book, believing that his greatest wish was to draw attention to the terrible conditions in the coal mines, where deaths were commonplace.

History records that when Orwell left the south in the winter days of 1936, he knew his book would focus on a northern town and came to Wigan after a trade unionist suggested Wigan would “fit his bill”.

Anyway, Wigan’s much respected Tom Walsh takes a totally different view and his penned this poem especially for Wigan World readers.

Verse to Orwell

(Forgiveness for the Road to Wigan Pier)

Wigan much-maligned by camera and pen, by critics and writers yore.

A town proud of its heritage, daughters and sons with tales to tell and more.

Our august people heeded the summon to war, to mine, to weave and sow.

George Orwell came to humiliate, mock and betray, using shameful scroll.

Wigan has answered his venom by the strength of its heart and soul.

It displays great concern for the stricken...for those in despair it consoles.

We can show this imposter from Eton that his critique was woefully wrong.

Our town overcame his mistreatment, the untruths in print and by tongue.

Wigan’s family has forgiven is betrayal, forgiveness the gift of the strong.