The lecture, titled Keeping Time in the Georgian House, took place on Wednesday June 15th 2016, at Fairfax House, Castlegate, York, YO1 9RN.
The theme for the Festival of Ideas 2016 was ‘Tick Tock’, and as one of the world’s most renowned inventors and foremost horologists, Dr Taylor explored the revolutionary advances in timekeeping that elapsed throughout the Georgian Age.
Looking specifically within the historic Fairfax House, Dr John C Taylor discussed and suggested what clocks the Fairfax family may have owned or were acquired by the Ninth Viscount, Charles Gregory Fairfax.
Speaking ahead of the lecture, Dr Taylor said “I am delighted to be lecturing at the York Festival of Ideas. The Georgian era was an interesting and poignant period for clock making and I am intrigued to visit the historic townhouse to speak about how clocks and timekeeping were incorporated into the life of those who lived at Fairfax.”
Dr John C Taylor is perhaps best known for creating the bimetal thermostat controls inside electric kettles and other small household appliances. With over 400 patents to his name, he is regarded as one of the world’s most prolific inventors as well as being a leading expert on the work of John Harrison, the inventor of bimetal and an early horological pioneer who is best known for his marine chronometer, the first clock accurate enough to be used for navigation at sea.
His interest and admiration of clocks led Dr Taylor to also design and build the Corpus Chronophage, a unique device for measuring time which is displayed on an exterior wall of his alma mater: Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. It was unveiled by the world-renowned physics professor Stephen Hawking in 2008. Dr Taylor has since created two other Chronophage clocks – the Midsummer Chronophage and the Dragon Chronophage.
Dr Taylor is no stranger to Fairfax House, having loaned his wooden Harrison precision longcase clock to the ‘Keeping Time’ exhibition in 2013.
About Dr John C Taylor OBE
Dr John C Taylor OBE was born in Buxton in Derbyshire in 1936. Having spent six years living in Canada during his childhood, he returned home towards the end of the Second World War and attended King William’s College on the Isle of Man before studying Natural Sciences at Cambridge University.
After finishing his education he took a job at Otter Controls, founded by his father, and began working in bi-metal. His work with these controls led to Dr Taylor designing the thermostat systems that are used in almost two billion kettles and small household appliances.
Dr Taylor left Otter Controls to build his own company, Strix, which holds four Queen’s Awards. Three are for Export and one is for Innovation, granted for his 360-degree cordless kettle connector, which is used every day by almost every household and workplace in the UK and many throughout the world.
As well as being one of the world’s most prolific inventors, Dr Taylor has also conducted a lot of research into the subject of horology. He is one of the world’s leading experts in the work of John Harrison, an early pioneer of timekeeping and sea clocks. This led him to design and help build the Corpus Chronophage, a three metre-high clock that is displayed in an exterior wall of the Corpus Christi College building at Cambridge University.
He has lectured alongside American writer Dava Sobel, who wrote the well-known book Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time about John Harrison.
Dr Taylor has been the recipient of many honours including, but not limited to, the following:
– Appointment as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2011 New Year honours list for his services to business and horology
– Appointment as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering for his outstanding contribution to the advancement of British engineering, innovation and commerce
– Being conferred an Honorary Doctorate from UMIST
In his spare time, Dr Taylor also has a keen interest in aviation, having been a private pilot for over sixty years. Taught by his father as a child, he has so far amassed over 5,000 hours of flying time.
Dr John C Taylor is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DrJCTOBE.
1936 Born in Buxton, Derbyshire
1939 Moves to Canada with family
1945 Family returns to Derbyshire
1950 Attends King William’s College
1953 First solo flight
1956 Begins study at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
1958 Is a member of the Cambridge Spitsbergen Expedition, Svalbard
1959 Graduates from Cambridge, having studied Natural Sciences
1959 Joins his father’s company, Otter Controls
1981 Leaves Otter Controls to set up his own company, Strix
1995 Strix receives first of four Queen’s Awards
1999 Retires and leaves Strix
2001 Receives Honorary Doctorate of Engineering from UMIST
2003 Begins work on the Corpus Chronophage
2008 Taylor library opened at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
2008 Corpus Chronophage unveiled at Taylor library
2010 Midsummer Chronophage first exhibited
2011 Awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in New Year honours list for services to business and horology
2012 Awarded Fellowship by the Royal Academy of Engineering
2013 Completes the Dragon Chronophage
2014 Prototype of the solar cooker produced
2015 Exhibits the Dragon Chronophage at Design Shanghai
2015 First US commission Chronophage clock presented to collector
2015 Awarded Harrison Medal by Worshipful Company of Clockmakers
2016 Dr John C Taylor OBE speaks at the York Festival of Ideas