High Street Heroes
Written by Ginevra Benedetti
With products that boast designer looks and styles that span from traditional to retro, it’s easy to assume Newgate Clocks is a heritage brand. In fact, the company was founded just two decades ago in a small flat in Oswestry, Shropshire, by couple Jim and Chloe Read, who named the brand after the medieval gate their home overlooked. As well as having a thriving online business, the company also sells clocks in a wide selection of big-name stores, including John Lewis, Heal’s and The Conran Shop. Newgate Clocks can also be found in boutiques in the UK, US, Japan, France, Italy and Germany. Newgate Clocks currently produces around 350 styles and its design team constantly adds to the collection.
Get to know their signature style
Jim describes Newgate Clocks’ look as ‘modern vintage’, inspired by antique and classic designs, as well as his frequent visits to London, Paris, New York, San Francisco and Hong Kong. The bestselling Quad clock was inspired by an original station clock that Jim and Chloe found on London’s Portobello Road. The original now hangs on the wall in their kitchen.
The couple behind the look
Both Jim and Chloe’s parents were antiques dealers, so they both grew up visiting antiques fairs and auctions. The pair met more than 20 years ago when Jim’s aunt set them up on a blind date. The idea for Newgate Clocks arose when they realised there was a gap in the market for interesting clocks. ‘Most of the clocks available then were really unexciting and we felt they could be so much more stylish and quirky,’ says Jim. Chloe dropped out of a business course in Birmingham to move in with Jim and start the company and, a year later, their designs were an instant hit at their first trade show. Jim now leads a team of eight designers in the company’s head office in Oswestry, where they design all the clocks from scratch, as well as creating the company’s marketing material, catalogues and websites. Chloe splits her time between the commercial side of the business and being a full-time mum to the couple’s children Ruby, nine, Buster, seven, and Lola, four.
The Newgate philosophy
‘If you enjoy designing or decorating, avoid anything that may sap your creative juices,’ says Jim. ‘Seek out great quality, whether you find it in museums or in stylish books or great shops. Immerse yourself in the very best you can get your hands on. Keep it fun and inject as much style as you can muster.’
• Chloe was born in Newmarket, Suffolk, and grew up in Duddleston Heath, Shropshire. Jim was born in nearby Oswestry, Shropshire, and moved to Duddleston Heath when he was 17. • Jim attended Shrewsbury College of Art but dropped out in his first year because he felt the course wasn’t challenging enough. • Within a year of meeting each other, the couple had set up Newgate Clocks, displayed their designs at a trade show and secured orders from Harrods, among other UK companies, as well as international distributors. • The couple now live in a vicarage near Oswestry with their kids Ruby, nine, Buster, seven, and Lola, four. Ruby designed her first clock last year.
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