The BHI was founded in the Clerkenwell district of London in 1858. A group of  watchmakers joined together in an attempt to combat the large quantity of clocks  and watches flooding into the country from abroad, and to raise the standards of  British horology. The Institute grew rapidly and within a year it found  permanent premises and started both a library and museum. It soon organised evening classes in watchmaking and clockmaking and set the first examinations in technical horology. Most of the famous names in horology have been associated  with the Institute, Lord Grimthorpe, the designer of 'Big Ben', was president  for 35 years, and the post has been occupied by many Astronomers Royal. The British Horological Institute moved to their present premises at Upton hall in 1972.

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The Modern BHI

The modern BHI is run by a Council of members on a voluntary basis with a few  permanent staff. Education still forms a major part of the Institutes activities with close links with all the colleges and training establishments  offering horological training and is the awarding body for examinations in  Technical Horology held both in the UK and abroad.

The museum has been in existence since the Institute was formed and has grown to quite large  proportions. The museum is open to the public on certain days of the week so it is advised that you telephone Upton Hall to see when they are open. The library  contains nearly 5000 volumes in a variety of languages, and a librarian is  available to perform research on members behalf.

The Horological Journal is the magazine of the Institute. It claims to be  the oldest British technical journal, having been published without a break  since 1858. Any member of the BHI must undertake to abide strictly by the BHI's Code Of Practice which ensures a fair and honest  transaction carried out with professional integrity.

There are 24 Regional Branches within the UK and many  countries overseas have an area representative who will also assist local  members as necessary. The branches also organise meetings etc.


Membership is open to anyone with an interest in timekeeping in its many forms. Professional membership is open to those actively involved in horology  for their livelihood, and the relevant grades are Graduate, Member and Fellow,  these are recognised professional qualifications, and their holders are entitled to use the letters GradBHI, MBHI and FBHI respectively. Other non qualified  members are Students (under 21), Associate members and Licentiates (this last grade is gradually being replaced.)


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