A to Z of Leeds: The city's own king of clocks

We all know Leeds is a great city, right?

Friday, 25th December 2020, 11:30 am
The Potts clock inside Thornton's Arcade. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
The Potts clock inside Thornton's Arcade. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe

There are many reasons for this bold claim, from the people who've called this place home, to the history of the region, the developments underway and the talent and creativity we see on a daily basis. Here, we go through the alphabet to give you some reasons to be proud.


Robert Potts was apprenticed to a Darlington clockmaker in 1790 but his son William founded his business in Pudsey in 1833.

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The Potts clock in The Grand Aracde. PIC: Simon Hulme

In 1962 William Potts moved it to Guildford Street to found the Guildford Clock Works and began the mass production of clocks for schools, offices and railways.

Three of William’s sons joined the firm (William Potts & Sons Ltd). It was Robert Potts (1943-1917), his second son, who later became head of the firm. Brothers Tom and Charles both left to set up their own clock businesses.

Many Potts clocks remain in Leeds to this day. One of the most famous is the famous Ivanhoe clock in Thornton’s Arcade.

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Changing Leeds - Go down the city centre's arcades of attraction

The fixtures for that clock were made by artist John Wormald Appleyard and the mechanism by Leeds clock manufacturer William Potts & Son.

Potts clocks were installed in cathedrals, churches, town halls, schools, engineering works and railways as far afield as the Shetland Islands, Melbourne, Australia and New Zealand.



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Laura Collins