RECITE II Program under the Dossier IDC –MEDICI
Seminar about “Transmission of Knowledge”
Theme: Protection of Public Clocks
IDC-MEDICI = Ingénierie Du Clocher – Maintien de Emplois De l’Ingénierie des emplois du Clocher et de ses Industries
RECITE = Régions & Cités d’Europe
seminar took place 2nd – 4th July 2001 under the
auspices of Alain Jouffray, Campanologist /Director of the I.E.A.C. (Institut
Europeen d’Art Campanaire) in function as project leader of the Dossier
participants gathered together in the Training Institute ‘Vincent Auriol’ in
Muret/Toulouse, where clock restorer Michel Perissas, teacher in clockwork
technique at this Institute, arranged the organisation.
European Commission is aiming with some experimental RECITE projects:
To promote the culture of collaboration in European regions by mutual
transmission of knowledge.
To consolidate the social, as well as the economical structure in these
consequence of the ICE-MEDICI dossier of I.E.A.C., one of these projects under
RECITE II pointed to the protection of European Bell towers with all their
to the European conditions, at least three other European countries have to
participate with commercial companies in the dossier IDE-MEDICI, being Italy,
Greece and Belgium.
addition to the I.E.A.C., the other partners are important Bell-foundries and
dealers in Electronic installations, namely:
Bell foundry, Sevrier, France.
Indelec, Douai, France.
Rethymnon, Crete, Greece.
Bell foundry, Agnone, Italy.
electronic clock & carillon installations, Holsbeek, Belgium.
Seminar was organised for all persons who are directly of indirectly involved
with public clocks, as clockmakers, teachers in clock technique, restorers,
collectors, institutions, the earlier mentioned companies and others.
weeks before the beginning of the seminar, the invitations in French were also
sent to interested people in the Netherlands, Belgium, England and Germany to
give them the opportunity to participate in the seminar.
of the short preparing time and the absence of an English and German interpreter,
only a few of them could accept the invitation.
the four European Partners France was represented by 23 members and Belgium by
Mr. Renders, a private collector of Turret clocks.
the Netherlands there was Mr. Wijbenga, a clock restorer and teacher in
clockwork technique at the Technical School in Schoonhoven and myself, a clock
restorer and manufacturer of the Clock Care System. (Automatic winding &
regulation of Turret clocks.)
Excursion and Presentations
program provided a visit to Arignac, Haute-Garonne, on 3rd of July.
participants had the opportunity to visit the enormous collection of turret
clocks of Mr. Ginestet. He guided
us personally around his private museum and told us many interesting details
about his clocks.
Mr. Ginestet has only been collecting for a short time, the collection has some
particular and early clocks as well as a great variety of Comtoise clocks and
discussions during the sessions were alternated by two wonderful documentation
films, which were extremely interesting although they had nothing to do with
addition we were able to view and listen to an extremely complicated
music-automaton, recently restored by Mr. Vassort from Loches.
It represented a naturally moving lady, who teaches a canary to sing by
means of a Serinette (little organ).
on we saw a film from the Workshop of Christian Damet from Rabastens, that
showed macro-pictures of a working verge escapement inside an 18th
century watch, by means of a glass optic fibre camera!
The mechanical clock in the RECITE programme
now, the RECITE II projects appear mainly to concern the carillon in Bell Towers.
our modern time such a carillon is activated by an electronic installation
operating the hands at the same time and displaying the accurate time outside on
the tower wall.
the past these clocks, with or without a carillon, was functioning mechanically
being the kind of clocks that this Seminar is designated to.
let them function in good condition, these old, often ancient clocks need all
their own special care.
number of traditional clockmakers, who are capable to repair and maintain clocks
professionally, has decreased dramatically.
and more mechanical turret clocks are taken away and replaced by electronic
specimen, as a consequence of the young ones loosing interest in the trade.
development will be a great danger for mechanical clocks.
RECITE II Program is aimed to change this by proposing the following themes at
Declaration of European lines of action and conditions for the restoration of
Turret clocks and the creation of a supplementary course, specifically for
restoring mechanical Turret clocks for example at the Institute ‘Vincent Auriol’.
intention to constitute a complete inventory of all public mechanic clocks in
Towers still existing in more than 70.000 municipalities of Europe.
Personal remarks about Theme 1
in the region of Mid-Pyrenees, where this seminar took place, there are still
tradition-trained clockmakers professionally working on Turret clocks.
be able to execute restoration work professionally, a craft background is
absolute necessary, but when speaking about a ‘responsible restoration’
other aspects are as important as well.
technologies in the conservation field become more and more important as to
original clock material.
clock making schools are not yet prepared to train clockmakers into restorers
currently because the accent lies mainly on the technical and functional aspects.
tendency was noticeable during the Seminar, both at the constitution of the
restoration guidelines and the proposals for lesson programs for the
supplemented Restoration Courses.
examples of daily practises that the clockmakers who were present brought
forward however furnished important discussions.
was that a Restorer needs both historical and art-historical knowledge and also
that an open mind is a precondition to work with other specialists in a
essential subjects were suggested and added to the Restoration Course that is to
be set up:
The importance of carefully documentation in work, image and sound
The development of a restoration philosophy (not to be confused with
rigid restoration ethics!)
agreed that a specific professional training programme is needed to graduate
from Clockmaker to Restorer.
like this, one is able to prepare specified estimates and quotations with
matching calculations. It
became clear to all persons present that much experience and knowledge is
necessary to restore and maintain this important cultural heritage in a
Mamias en Bodet, dealers in electronic carillon, striking and clock
installations, recognised this specialisation and proposed the present local
clockmakers to carry out restoration work and maintenance of the existing
mechanical clocks for them.
Personal remarks about Theme 2:
get an insight where Turret clocks still exist and in what condition, a
questionnaire has to be sent throughout Europe to all communities.
discussion intensified on how detailed the questions should be and whether a
photograph of the clock should be requested at the same time.
addressed person has not always the specific clock knowledge, so a difficult and
extensive questionnaire might be put aside.
preferred a plain version that outsiders could complete.
the questionnaire is returned, a more specified version could be followed with a
request for photographs. There was
also the opinion that many communities would not be agreeable to cooperate,
being afraid of the consequences, as for example, a loss of autonomy.
reason often is that a clock is in such a neglected state, and its exposure is
question, “If an addressed community will benefit by cooperating in this
inventory”, could not be answered.
think the RECITE II programme is a valuable initiative, starting the possibility
to encourage cooperation in saving public clocks throughout Europe.
the many operating mechanical clocks, it is urgent to convince both the
concerned people and the public how crucially important these clocks are a
my own experience, I know that similar initiatives have been developed in
several European countries by institutions for example:
In the Netherlands, the “Rijksdienst voor de Monumentenzorg” and the
“Stichting tot behoud van het Torenuurwerk”
In England, the “Council
for the Care of Churches” and the “Antiquarian Horological Society” and
the “British Horological Institute”.
In Germany, the “Deutsches
Zentrum fur Denkmalpflege” and the “Fachkreis Turmuhren der Deutsche
Gesellschaft fur Chronometrie”.
there will be a lot more European countries cherishing these same ideas, so the
time is now to coordinate all these initiatives on a European level.
useful investment of the RECITE programme seems to me, the stimulation of
employment in this trade, spread over European regions.
will continue or perhaps guarantee the possibility
for the restoration firms to fulfil professionally the necessary restorations
and maintaining work, in the future.
all mechanical Turret clocks are protected
by the RECITE programme, namely the
clocks not being in Bell towers, but on facades of private castles, town halls,
etc. They must not be excluded and
must be protected and recorded.
is worth making these efforts to save this important culture heritage against
participation in this Seminar was a very useful experience for me and I am very
grateful to both the I.E.A.C. and the Trainings Institute ‘Vincent Auriol’
for their hospitality during these days.
hope that much more disciplines from many more European countries will be
gathered during the next reunion in February 2002, so it can be regarded as a
Real Representative European platform.