Manx Inventor Part of British Invention History

Dr John C Taylor OBE, who lives on the Isle of Man, has been included in What the British Invented: From the Great to the Downright Bonkers by Gilly Pickup

The book, published by Amberley Books, details many of the inventions that we take for granted in our everyday lives. 

Author Gilly Pickup said, “The world would be a much poorer place without our great British inventions - from cats eyes to crossword puzzles, tarmac to telephones, steam engines to shorthand, British inventors have led the world with their ingenious ideas. 

“Dr Taylor is a prime example. Before his Chronophage (Ancient Greek for ‘time-eater’) clock series was created, mechanical clocks had worked in much the same way for hundreds of years, so his inventions can be seen as one of the pioneering moments in the history of timekeeping. 

“They not only work in a unique way, they force a watcher to change the way they think about, and read, time.” 

Dr Taylor is perhaps best known for having created the bimetal thermostat controls inside electric kettles and other small household appliances. To date, over two billion of these thermostats have been used around the globe. He has over 400 patents to his name, making him one of the world’s most prolific inventors. Bimetal itself was invented by his hero John Harrison, who is also included in What the British Invented. 

Dr Taylor, who was recently awarded the Harrison Medal by the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers for his services to horology, said, “It’s a great honour to have my clocks included in What the British Invented alongside brilliant inventions like the motorcar, the jet engine and the game of cricket! 

“It’s a fascinating book, and an ideal present for anyone who shares my passion for invention and innovation.” 

John Harrison – after whom the Harrison Medal was named – was an early horological pioneer, and his ‘marine chronometer’ was the first clock accurate enough to be used for navigational purposes at sea. 

Dr Taylor is regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in the work of John Harrison, and he has lectured around the world on the subject. 

His interest in Harrison’s clocks extends beyond appreciation and study - his admiration for them led him to design and build the Corpus Chronophage, a three-metre high clock that is displayed in an exterior wall of his alma mater: Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. It was unveiled in 2008 by world-renowned physics professor Stephen Hawking. 

It was John Harrison’s grasshopper escapement that made his longcase clocks the most accurate in the world for 150 years, and his sea clocks allowed sailors to navigate using the time. Dr Taylor celebrated that horological breakthrough with the Corpus Chronophage, in which the grasshopper is externalised, enlarged and shaped like a science-fiction grasshopper which stalks along the top of the clock, releasing the huge escape wheel that encircles the face. 

Dr Taylor has since created three more Chronophage clocks: the Midsummer Chronophage, the Dragon Chronophage and a private commission for a US collector. 

More information on the making of the Corpus Chronophage clock can be found here on the following websites;