Rare Eastern Counties Railway driver's or mailguard's watch, circa 1850.
Stout nickel case with screw held crystal (flat glass) bezel, the rear cover engraved LOCO No 17. Fullplate fusee movement, key-wound and set from the rear. Single-roller detached lever escapement. Steel balance, spiral balance-spring. Enamel dial boldly numbered and signed both for Fairer and the E.C.R. Co, matching bold blued-steel hands. 52 mm diameter.
Joseph Fairer, working in Shoreditch High Street for just a few years, known to have supplied clocks to various public companies - see Britten. See also the article 'Time and the Railways' by Helen Ashby, in the January 1989 issue of the Horological journal, in which a longcase clock by Fairer is mention, issued to a different railway company.
The Eastern Counties Railway ran from 139 to 1862 when it was merged into the Great Eastern Railway. In its day it was the largest of the East Anglian railways, linking London with Ipswich and Colchester and later with Norwich.
NB: Initially used on Mail Coaches, strongly cased and dependable watches such as this started to be used by the new railway companies that took over the conveying of mail, though it is most unusual that the individual locomotive is identified to an individual watch. As such, this short lived company may have issued watches to the drivers of their trains, all of whom would have had responsibility for an individual loco - railway historians may be able to identify which Class.
Hair crack in dial, and some general wear and tear, but less than usual for these hard working watches. It must be rare as I have seen no others from this company, and I do not remember seeing any such railway watch associated with an individual train. Serviced and guaranteed.
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