'Fifty years ago, everybody got everything repaired': Cork clockmaker Mark reclaims time

'Fifty years ago, everybody got everything repaired': Cork clockmaker Mark reclaims time

Mark Causer in his shop on Magazine Road. Picture: Mostafa Darwish.

“’We are in a throwaway society, where people don’t think of the implications of buying something and then throwing it away. Fifty years ago, everybody got everything repaired.”

That is the opinion of Mark Causer, of The Clock Shop, on Magazine Road, second-generation clockmaker and repairer. He repairs and makes a host of items, including clocks, barometers, pocket watches, and parts of vintage cars.

The 68-year-old began working in his father’s shop in south London on Saturdays for pocket money and developed further skills while in the navy.

“I was trained by my father,” he says. “But also, I did a four-year apprenticeship in the navy. 

"Obviously, that was with engines, but it’s engineering in principles, you know. Overall different disciplines have a similar way you do things.”

Years later, he moved from England to Cork after meeting his partner from West Cork.

‘’The employment situation in Cork was dire in the mid-80s. My only option at the time seemed to be to start my own business. I had all the equipment; my father died some years before.

“I managed to get private premises in Magazine Road, not this present one but another shop. And I was there for about 12 years, and then I bought this place.’’

He loves what he’s doing, and being his own boss.

‘’I am interested in steam engines, which is very antique engineering,” he says. 

“Now, I can’t see steam engines ever coming back again. But they’re interesting to work on.’’

Mr Causer describes a time when there were more than 100 watchmakers and jewellers in Cork City alone, with some specialising in maritime instruments.

‘’There was a guy called Bennett who made compasses sextants instruments for the seagoing trade,” he says. “He was a famous instrument maker. He made stuff for UCC for their physics department, which is still there.’’

Mr Causer says electronic watches changed the scene. An inexpensive quartz watch now is as accurate as a chronometer, which would have cost thousands of pounds 150 years ago.

“Even the very expensive ones you don’t repair, you just put a brand new movement in them. So you do not need people to work in this sort of business.”

He added that people get their clocks repaired more for sentimentality than practical use.

“There was a good business from the late 80s to the early 2000s,” he says. “People were buying houses in West Cork, cottages, and they wanted the mechanical clock in the kitchen that they remember from their youth.

“And so I did a booming sales in that era. But other than that, there’s no real need for a mechanical clock anymore, except for the sentiment.”

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