Charles Frodsham was born in 1810 and was the best known member of this family of watchmakers. He was renowned for the quality of his work and after his death in 1868 the company continued to produce quality clocks and watches well into the twentieth century.
After the death of John Roger Arnold in 1844, Charles Frodsham brought his business at 84 Strand, London. At first he signed his instruments 'J.R. Arnold - Chas Frodsham' but in 1857 he began working under his own name from the same address. In 1885 the company began engraving their clocks Frodsham and Co. although they still worked from the same address.
Very soon after he acquired Arnold's business Frodsham began to work with the Astronomer Royal, George Biddell Airy at Greenwich. This link between Greenwich and Frodsham is perhaps one reason Sydney Observatory also sought the services of Frodsham.
As a colonial enterprise Sydney Observatory received its first instructions from Airy and it is not surprising to find that in 1860 Airy also purchased this regulator clock on behalf of Sydney Observatory. The Government Astronomer at Sydney Observatory, William Scott noted in the 1860 Annual report that it had cost 70 pounds.
Originally this clock was set up to measure sidereal time and was linked to the transit observations. For this reason it was often referred to as the 'Transit Clock' by observatory staff. By 1861 it had been modified to enable it to be connected to the 'equatorial clock' by electrical current. In the 'Astronomical Results, 1879-80-81', the Government Astronomer, H C Russell the clock states the clock did not keep very good time and was sent in 1877 to Mr. Allerding for repairs. A slight fault with one of the pallets was polished out and this along with some other minor repairs improved the clocks rate.
This clock is one of the more significant in the collection as it had continuous use at Sydney Observatory for over one hundred years. In the nineteen twenties it was connected to the newly purchased Shorrt clock, 'S8', which delivered time signals.
This regulator clock is of national significance due to its pioneering role in Australian science and its association with Australia's earliest astronomers. It is also of international significant for its association with one of the nineteenth century's most acclaimed instrument makers.
Geoff Barker, Assistant Curator, Total Asset Management Project, March 2008
Antiquorum Catalogue, 'Charles Frodsham', Longitude at the Eve of the Third Millennium, Antiquorum, Geneva, 1999
Bhathal, R., Australian Astronomer; John Tebbutt, Kangaroo Press, Kenthurst, NSW, 1993
Mercer, Tony, Chronometer Makers of the World, N.A.G. Press and Tony Mercer, 1991
Mercer, Vaudrey, The Frodshams; the Story of a Family of Clockmakers, The Antiquarian Horological Society, Kent, England, 1981
Russell, H C, 'Sydney Observatory; Astronomical Results, 1879-80-81' Charles Potter, Government Printer, 1893
Scott, William, Annual Report 1865, Sydney Observatory, 1865