Last week Cosmologist Stephen Hawkins unveiled the spectacular new Corpus Christi clock at Cambridge University. The clock has no hands but uses rotating rings and flashing blue LED lights to indicate the time. The mechanism is entirely mechanical and the fantastical insect or Chronophage (time eater) astride the device is a tribute to the 18th century English clockmaker John Harrison inventor of the grasshopper escapement mechanism.
The clock was designed and funded by inventor Dr. John Taylor who made his fortune from electric kettle controls. His father founded Otter Controls after the Second World War and developed the bimetallic snap action thermostat. This device is used in residential control and for motor protection equipment around the world. John Taylor inherited his fathers inventiveness and has 150 patents to his name. He took Strix Limited, a company split off from Otter to develop thermostats, on to become the biggest supplier of electric control interfaces for electric kettles and other fluid-heating and water-boiling appliances in the world.
As Secretary to IEC TC72, Automatic controls for Household Use, I will be in China for the TC72 Plenary meeting. Among other things we will be considering a proposal for a new specification for a safety cutout device being presented by representatives of both Otter Controls and Strix limited. Hopefully we will have a chance to pay tribute to one of the pioneers of residential controls products perhaps we will celebrate with a nice cup of tea!