History

Horologists & Jewellers since 1864

william mansell garden poss ealingWilliam Mansell is a familiar name to Connaught Villagers as the local jewellers, specialising in clock, watch, barometer & barograph repairs as well as jewellery, silver, engraving etc etc. The name is known further afield, across the nation and across the globe, with people from far & wide travelling to or posting to 24 Connaught Street for repairs to timepieces etc. With international celebrities among the clientele, there’s never a dull moment at William Mansell.  Tackling complex, difficult, intricate repair work that others shy away from, or lack the expertise to carry out.

However, very little is known about William (Bill) Mansell the man. Born on 27th September 1873, his mother Annie Marie Crate, was from a family of silversmiths & jewellers. He was only 5 when his father died & he went to live with his uncle Robert Humphries  & aunt Mary Ann (Crate) at 52 Seymour Place where Robert Humphries carried on his business as a manufacturing silversmith which he had begun in 1864. He was later  apprenticed to his uncle and worked along side another uncle Alfred Crate. Humphries died  in 1896 &  three years later Alfred & Bill changed the business name to Crate & Mansell.

On 8th September 1900, at St John’s in Hyde Park Crescent,  Bill Mansell  married Emily Woolcott, a coachman’s daughter who lived at  8 Norfolk Mews.

At first they went to live at 18 Drayton Gardens West Ealing, later moving to 66 Lynton Avenue, West Ealing   7 years later their first and  only child Marjorie was born.

1947 John Cole paintingIn 1911, Alfred Crate & William Mansell went their separate ways,  Alfred carried on in Seymour Place with his son Leonard, seen standing in the doorway, meanwhile William Mansell  took on the lease of 24 Connaught Street and set up shop. The upper parts were occupied by a dressmaking business and William Mansell developed to encompass all areas of the jewellery trade, supplying & repairing jewellery, silverware, clocks and watches. One of the clocks supplied by Mansell’s can still be seen in the Victoria pub in Strathearn Place.

Bill Mansell took on the lease of a premises at 11 Sovereign Mews where he set up a plating works. When Sovereign Mews was demolished to make way for the Art Deco flats Park West, he took on a lease at 15 Norfolk Mews West later re-named London Mews.

At the bottom of Bill & Emily’s rear  garden  were grounds behind Drayton Halt station wherein there was a scout hut.  The scoutmaster was a chartered surveyor Arthur Williamson. Love blossomed between Arthur & Marjorie Mansell  and in 1934 they married. The brightest & most able scout in Arthur’s pack,  his blue-eyed boy,  was Fred Salisbury.

unnamed (4)Fred Salisbury speaking in 2002:  “Old Bill was a very kindly guy, the sort that took a young kid who had no hope of getting anywhere, teaching him to clean & restore silver & the silver-plating business. He took on many lads over the years, many from the scout troop. One was Arthur Thompson who he set up at his plating works and later left the entire  workshop and contents in his will.

For the last year of the war the shop was closed & Bill Mansell died a week before VE day  leaving £3,000  in his will.  Emily, Arthur & Marjorie had no great interest in keeping the business going The rent from Miss Hutchinson’s dressmaking business more than covered the outgoings on the premises and following Fred Salisbury’s return from India & demob, he was offered a share in the business. An offer he accepted, much to his wife’s disapproval. He attended night school and soon took over the day to day running of the business.

unnamed (3)The lease was due for renewal in 1951 and the war damage and dilapidations were fairly extensive. The lease was owned by Emily. Arthur, being a chartered surveyor and a member of the same club, was treated with kid gloves by the Church Commissioners’ agent and said not to worry about the lease. The Church Commissioners woke up one day & appointed a new agent.

In the autumn of 1954, Arthur arrived in the shop accompanied by Mr Danger of Chestertons on behalf of the Church for an inspection of the premises. After discussions with Mr Danger, Arthur turned to Fred & said “That’s it, Fred, we’ll have to close down. They want £3000 (£80,000  today)  deposited to cover the dilapidations and I can’t do it”  After digesting this information for a minute, Fred said to Mr Danger, “What if I can ? “

Opposite William Mansell’s was an estate agent Deacon & Allen owned by Leslie Slot, also, a director of the Portman Building Society.  Leslie was a good customer whom Fred knew well. He  secured the necessary funding & was granted a new lease subject to completion of the works.

During the extensive repairs to the building, Fred added a kitchen & bathroom and in 1955 started living above the shop with his wife and two young sons Robert & William.

At that time there were a dozen people working in the business, carrying out repairs both for the general public and for the trade.  As each employee moved on or retired, they weren’t replaced and by the early eighties, Fred was running William Mansell’s single handed.

In 1983, burglars entered the premises and removed almost the entire contents of the shop. Following this devastating blow, Fred’s youngest son Bill Salisbury joined the business, and began to re-build the stock and re-establish the sales side of the business.


What client’s say about us
  • A really top class watch repair shop – they can pretty much fix anything and I’d trust them with any of my watches.

    Paul Smithy
    (Customer)
  • Such a find and on my doorstep! Repaired one of my favourite bracelets when I thought it wasn’t possible. Will return. Highly recommend

    Janice Bowling
    (Customer)
  • Thank you to Terry at William Mansell. I had recently inherited a Victorian silver pocket watch. The watch had been consigned to a drawer for fifty years and was very much in need of attention: The case, crystal and watch. Terry completed a full repair and restoration and returned the watch to me in full working order and looking beautiful. I was further delighted as the Goldsmiths’, Assay Office assessed the overall condition as “Good/Fair”. My family now has a gorgeous, working item that will continue to be passed through the generations. The next caretaker will be the original owner’s great-great granddaughter.

    Noel Adams
    (Customer)
  • SIMPLY THE BEST! My 70-year-old K. M. Siegerin military wristwatch was in need of urgent Tender Loving Care. It was stopping all over the place and on top of that I lost the winder. By luck, three weeks ago I came across the William Mansell website on Google. I telephoned them and spoke to their receptionist, Terry. I went to William Mansell the next day and met Terry. She was very courteous and explained all I needed to know regarding the repair and full service of my wristwatch including the minimum and maximum price and assured me that my wristwatch would be well looked after. Terry also explained that if my wristwatch required parts that could not be sourced then they would get in touch with me for MY APPROVAL to make the parts at an additional cost. Now, this is what I call service!  No grey areas, everything explained as it should be.  William Mansell are very fortunate to have Terry as their front of house receptionist, if only other companies were so lucky. Two weeks later, Monday 13 March, I received a telephone call from Terry informing me that my wristwatch was ready for collection, needless to say I was over the moon. (more…)

    Roger Fowler
    (Customer)
  • After researching online for jewellery shops, I happened to fortunately come across ‘William Mansell’.
    The positive reviews from others confirmed my decision to take my precious piece of jewellery to William Mansell for alternation.
    On arrival I was greeted by a very friendly receptionist who made me feel welcome and ensured my valuables was going to be looked after and cared for.
    I received a text fairly shortly after my visit, telling me that my jewellery had been altered and was ready for collection.
    Overall, I am very happy and impressed with the service and the way William Mansell has gone about their business and will be defiantly for sure using their service in the future for other pieces of jewellery.

    Macaulay Harrison
    (Customer)
  • ”I almost stumbled upon horologists William Mansell when I was in London for an appointment nearby a couple of years ago now.
    My watch collection seemed to be growing as were timepieces which needed a little tlc or more, Will the proprietor was my answer! He was happy to look at anything without the usual ”oh this will need a full service Sir, as well as the new glass you need” which I found all the big London names would say.
    I have not looked back since whether a glass, crown, polish, overhaul, minor or full repair, or just advice.”

    But shhhh William Mansell is my secret!

    Ian Freeman
    (Customer)
  • Walking through Willam Mansell door is a time-machine like experience (forgive me the pun).
    A lovely business of old – it is a compliment – where one can feel and breathe the care, craftmanship, attention for details, and passion for watches and jewellery.
    Any serious watch enthusiast cannot help but feel like a children catapulted in the most luxurious of candy-shops.
    I need to quote most of the reviews before mine – well, all except one. Excellent courtesy, quality of service, price and communication.
    The problem is that they put me in a position where I will not settle for anything less than their sky-high standards.
    The good part is that they are a stone thrown from my office and now I will not allow anyone else touching my watches, even with a long bargepole.

    Giangerolamo Pirinoli
    (Customer)
  • This is the first time I’ve been to William Mansell. I put an Omega Dynamic in for repair and an Ikepod for a service and polish. Within a couple of hours I received the repair quote by text and was also told that my Ikepod didn’t need servicing yet, which was very good of them to tell me. Two weeks later I have both watches back and I’m very happy with the work, which was done at a reasonable price. One final thing that impressed me was a comment that, if necessary, they can make the parts for watches if they can’t be sourced elsewhere. Thanks, and I’ll be back in future when I need further work done.

    Peter Mason
    (Customer)
  • Will has repaired and serviced both of my beloved watches. I wouldn’t trust anyone else to take on this work. Other than the manufactures themselves you would be pushed to find an equal. Fair price together with a courteous and fast service. Highly recommend. Thanks guys and girls.

    Mark Thorne
    (Customer)
  • Fab place, fab service, fab prices. They did a great repair and maintenance job on my two watches. They’ve been there since 1864 for a reason. Highly recommended.

    Ian Durant
    (Customer)