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Dr Taylor and Corpus Chronophage

It’s a great honour to have my clocks included in What the British Invented

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 catseyes 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.

For a video of the clock in motion see the following video.



Photos are available on request.

Media information provided by Famous Publicity. For further information please contact George Murdoch on 01737 822 682 or email or contact Tina Fotherby on 07703 409 622 or email

About Dr John C Taylor

Dr John C Taylor OBE was born in Buxton in Derbyshire in 1936. Having spent six years living in Canada during his childhood, he returned home towards the end of the Second World War and attended King William’s College on the Isle of Man before studying Natural Sciences at Cambridge University.

After finishing his education he took a job at Otter Controls, founded by his father, and began working in bi-metal. His work with these controls led to Dr Taylor designing the thermostat systems that are used in almost two billion kettles and small household appliances.

Dr Taylor left Otter Controls to build his own company, Strix, which holds four Queen’s Awards. Three are for Export and one is for Innovation, granted for his 360-degree cordless kettle connector, which is used every day by almost every household and workplace in the UK and many throughout the world.

As well as being one of the world’s most prolific inventors, Dr Taylor has also conducted a lot of research into the subject of horology. He is one of the world’s leading experts in the work of John Harrison, an early pioneer of timekeeping and sea clocks. This led him to design and help build the Corpus Chronophage, a three metre-high clock that is displayed in an exterior wall of the Corpus Christi College building at Cambridge University.

He has lectured alongside American writer Dava Sobel, who wrote the well-known book Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time about John Harrison.

Dr Taylor has been the recipient of many honours including, but not limited to, the following:

- Appointment as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 2011 New Year honours list for his services to business and horology

- Appointment as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering for his outstanding contribution to the advancement of British engineering, innovation and commerce

- Being conferred an Honorary Doctorate from UMIST

In his spare time, Dr Taylor also has a keen interest in aviation, having been a private pilot for over sixty years. Taught by his father as a child, he has so far amassed over 5,000 hours of flying time.

Dr John C Taylor is on Twitter at


1936 Born in Buxton, Derbyshire
1939 Moves to Canada with family
1945 Family returns to Derbyshire
1950 Attends King William’s College
1953 First solo flight
1956 Begins study at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
1958 Is a member of the Cambridge Spitsbergen Expedition, Svalbard
1959 Graduates from Cambridge, having studied Natural Sciences
1959 Joins his father’s company, Otter Controls
1981 Leaves Otter Controls to set up his own company, Strix
1995 Strix receives first of four Queen’s Awards
1999 Retires and leaves Strix
2001 Receives Honorary Doctorate of Engineering from UMIST
2003 Begins work on the Corpus Chronophage
2008 Taylor library opened at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
2008 Corpus Chronophage unveiled at Taylor library
2010 Midsummer Chronophage first exhibited
2011 Awarded Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in New Year honours list for services to business and horology
2012 Awarded Fellowship by the Royal Academy of Engineering
2013 Completes the Dragon Chronophage
2014 Prototype of the solar cooker produced
2015 Exhibits the Dragon Chronophage at Design Shanghai
2015 First US commission Chronophage clock presented to collector
2015 Awarded Harrison Medal by Worshipful Company of Clockmakers

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