Tributes to man who kept the town ticking

Stuart Callagan
Stuart Callagan

Stuart ‘Terry’ Callagan, well-known for many years as the man who maintained the clock on Horsham’s Old Town Hall, died last week aged 86.

Mr Callagan owned and ran Horsham Watch Centre - later renamed Shades of Time - in Queen Street for more than 30 years.

Mr Callagan had lived in Horsham since his family moved there in 1941.

He served in Italy in the latter part of the Second World War, and found work as a projectionist at the Capitol Cinema when he returned.

In 1949 Mr Callagan married his wife Beryl and they went on to have three children: David; Kim; and Peter.

Various jobs took him to a machine factory, then to the brickworks at Ockley, followed by Newmarks in Horsham where he was trained in clock and watch repairs.

Showing an aptitude for watch repairs, he learned how to be a watch maker. The council employed Mr Callagan to maintain several clocks around the town centre, including those at the Old Town Hall, the park and Horsham swimming pool, until he retired in 1988. While doing this, he still found time to work part-time as a pool lifeguard.

His business began at his mother-in-law’s front room in Park Terrace East, repairing watches and selling watches from a catalogue. As trade grew, he transferred to a bigger room, then to a premises on Queen Street, which he called The Horsham Watch Centre. He diversified into jewellery, but abandoned that part of the trade after being the victim of many break-ins and smash and grabs. He switched to selling light fittings, lamp and light shades, as well as continuing to repair and make watches. The shop was renamed Shades of Time, and continued to thrive.

In later life, Mr Callagan found his fingers were less nimble, so he focussed on clock repairs rather than watches, and learned engraving - a skill he has passed down to two of his children.

Retiring at 60, he sold the shop to an ex-goldsmith, and he and Beryl were able to enjoy many fantastic holidays in the UK and abroad, including a cruise to Vietnam, and annual extended holidays to the Canary Islands.

A statement from the family said: “Terry was a quiet, reserved and gentle man, who was kind, caring and extremely loyal to those he held close. He was fair, adhered to a strong moral code, and was a man who lived his life with consideration for other’s needs, often before his own.

“Terry passed away peacefully on 3rd October, with a silent strength and with the same dignity which had governed his life.”

His son Peter recalled: “He wasn’t a man that really showed his emotions - he was quite shy, always in the background; never at the forefront, but he’d be the first one to help you if you were in trouble.”

He added that his father was a ‘lovely, quiet, unassuming man’ who never complained about his health problems in later life: “He knew what was happening, he just got on and said nothing - he just kept it to himself and hid it from us, basically.”

An unsuccessful hip operation left Mr Callagan in a great deal of pain but, because he wouldn’t tell anyone about this, his family were left frustrated by his long recovery time.

The funeral will be held at Worthing crematorium, from 12.40pm on October 16, with a reception afterwards at the Black Horse in Findon.