Stenhousemuir family firm just keeps ticking along

Kim Shearer, Fay McLeod, Gillian Shearer and John Lynch.
Kim Shearer, Fay McLeod, Gillian Shearer and John Lynch.
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Arty Kim Shearer has created a piece of art to tick off the 91 years her family has been in the watch business.

Kim (22), a recent graduate from Napier University’s marketing degree programme, wanted to honour the business started by her great-grandfather John McLeod in 1920.

Dozens of pocket watches, some dating back to when John McLeod Watchmaker and Jeweller began right up to timepieces made today were used in the design.

The shop is now owned by Kim’s gran Fay McLeod, with Kim and her mum Gillian both helping out when needed,

Kim, who lives in Stenhousemuir and works at Airth Castle Hotel and Spa, said: “I am a bit obsessed with pocket watches and always have been. I suppose it comes from growing up around watches and clocks.

“My gran has boxes filled with them, so I wanted to use them to incorporate into a piece of art we could hang in the shop. Customers are always asking about it and are shocked when they find out the business is the best part of a century old.”

The business started in Fauldhouse in 1920 and moved to Stenhousemuir when the family relocated. During the Second World War John had to work on the buses and went back to repairing and making watches full time once the war finished.

Fay, who has been in the watchmaking business for 62 years, remembers: “Once my dad went back to making watches, the bus drivers would pull up to the house with their passengers waiting on board to drop off a piece to be fixed.

“Bus drivers would never get away with that now, but it was a different way of life then.”

When John died in 1979 Fay, who had been trained by her dad, took over and the family opened a shop in King Street the following year.

Kim said: “The type of business has changed so much since my great grandfather started it. Back then every man had one pocketwatch that would have cost a lot of money and would be well looked after. If it broke you took it to be repaired. Now people buy watches for £20 and get a new one when it breaks.”

Today the business not only fixes watches but also toys, games and jewellery.

John Lynch (73) started working at John McLeod when he was 15 and says he has no plans to retire any time soon.

“People bring all kinds of thing to be fixed, anything with small parts. It can be a fiddly job but I’ve had years of practice and I don’t have plans to retire - I enjoy my work too much.”