BOLSOVER: Time’s up for a real gem

HE was literally born into the jewel trade and has proved to be a real gem.

And if it was up to Alan Harrison, now 81, he’d carry on... ‘until I was 109’!

NDET 1-3-13 MC 10'Harrison's Jewellers

NDET 1-3-13 MC 10'Harrison's Jewellers

But TH Harrison in Bolsover will soon close its doors in what is the end of an era.

Generations of history will go with it, and its figurehead, Alan is preparing to put down his monocle for the first time in seven decades.

Alan was born at the premises on Town End in June 1931, and remembers working there from the age of just 12.

He said: “War was declared in 1939 and during that time, even though I was only young, I remember the miners wanting alarm clocks.

“You couldn’t get them because it was the war, my father was making aircraft instruments, so we would repair old clocks and watches instead.

“We used to clean watches by hand but a machine does it now.

“In the early days you even had to make your own tools first!”

Shuttlewood-born Thomas Hills Harrison, Alan’s father, patented early calendar clocks. He established the shop in Bolsover in November 1922 and moved to its current site after 1929.

His oldest son Alan served in the RAF for two years, using his intricate jewellery skills to be an instrument mechanic.

But the shop he has worked in ever since, often until 8pm at night, was sent watches and jewellery from as far afield as France to be repaired.

The store is now bustling as customers buy from the closing-down sale.

Treasured items in the back include those early calendar clocks, old-fashioned watch chains and a dictionary dating back to 1880.

Alan, whose daughter Susan has also worked at the shop since she was 19, said: “I’d carry on if I could.

“People are threatening if I pack up they are going to turn up at my back door with repairs.

“They’ve said they will believe it when they see it!”

The shop is expected to close around Easter due to changes in the way people buy jewellery and so Alan can retire.

Susan, 54, is going to concentrate on a portrait and wedding photography firm she runs with partner Nigel.

She sent a ‘big thank you’ to all customers for their support over the years.

“It will be a sad day to see the closure of one of the few third generation businesses left in the marketplace”, she added.