54 Mill Lane as C Bowler

A moment in time on Mill Lane

54 Mill Lane as C Bowler

54 Mill Lane in its former glory. Still from Conrad Blakemore’s short film

In 1991, local filmmaker Conrad Blakemore shot a short film for Channel 4. The Watchmaker was a snapshot of a day in the life of Mill Lane business C. Bowler Watchmaker and Jeweller.

Norman Clifford Bowler’s shop at 54 Mill Lane was postbox red and inside was an assorted jumble of watch parts. Mr Bowler himself seems to have been an amiable chap.

Born in Northumberland in July 1899, Clifford served in the Machine Gun Corps in World War 1 and by 1926 was on the electoral regiser at the Mill Lane address. He married Mabel in 1929 in Willesden.

In the film he recalls that he’s had customers for “40 or 50 years now. They always come to me first, to see if I’m still here. People are interested because they went to school in this area and although they have no repairs for me, they come here out of interest to see how many of the old shops are left and I’m about the only original one left now.”

Clifford died in January 1993 aged 93. Today, 54 Mill Lane is an empty premises, though it would appear several businesses use it as their registered address.

54 Mill Lane in January 2014

54 Mill Lane in January 2014

mill_lane_watchmaker_plaque

A plaque by the door commemorates the watchmaker

It’s nice to find, via Twitter, that the watchmaker’s shop – and the watchmaker himself – hasn’t been forgotten yet.

Thanks to Tetramesh for the original link and to Dick Weindling for additional historical detail.

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  • Simon Burrows

    Great article, fascinating view of the past. Thanks Jonathan.

  • MrFrisbee

    Wonderful – recently been developing an interest in mechanical watches. Wish he was still there. A real insight into an era well before 1991!

  • katyemdavies

    I went to Beckford School in the early 90s – we went on a school trip to visit Mr Bowler in about 1991 or 1992. He was lovely, very old then, of course.