Charles Frodsham and his successors are the longest continuously trading firm of chronometer manufacturers in the world. Charles was born into a family of clock, watch and chronometer makers on the 15th April 1810. His father William James Frodsham (1779-1850) and Hannah Lambert had ten children, five of which were apprenticed to their father and later became horologists in their own right. Educated at Christ’s Hospital and the Blue Coat School in Newgate, London, he was apprenticed at the age of fourteen to his father.
Charles married Elizabeth Mill in 1834 and set up his own business shortly after. It wasn’t long before Charles had established himself as one of London’s leading chronometer makers: on the death of John Roger Arnold, Charles purchased the Arnold business, and moved into the former Arnold premises at 84 Strand in 1844. This was a shrewd move, as the name of Arnold was world renowned. Trading continued as Arnold & Frodsham Chronometer Makers for a further fourteen years.
Charles exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 and received a first-class medal: the firm would attend all the major International Exhibitions in the 19th century, receiving a total of fourteen honour medals and diplomas.
Following the death of Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy in 1854 he purchased the goodwill of the business and succeeded Vulliamy as Superintendent and Keeper of Her Majesty’s clocks at Buckingham Palace. He was one of the founding members of the British Horological Institute in 1858, and a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers’, becoming Master in 1855 and again in 1862.
Charles died of liver disease on 11th January 1871 and buried at Highgate cemetery, London. His obituary stated that “during a long and honourable career, he distinguished himself by his devotion to the science of horology, which he greatly advanced, and his clever works upon the subject are regarded as authoritative by members of the trade.” The firm was taken over by his son Harrison Mill Frodsham and continues to this day. In 1884 the firm became Charles Frodsham & Co. Vacating their Strand address in 1896, the company operates today from 32 Bury Street, London.