Brother and sister team Rob and Sarah Leigh-Bramwell – also now known as Bramwell Brown – are making telling the time (and predicting the weather) a whole lot more fun
The Place in Angel seems very much the place to be. Not only is this delightful coffee shop on Canonbury Place brilliant for a hot drink, some lunch and a natter, but it’s the first café in the area to sport a Bramwell Brown weather clock. Watching co-founder Rob Leigh-Bramwell give me a demonstration of the barometer’s mechanics leaves me opened mouthed. ‘It was really nice to see people’s reactions,’ chips in Rob’s sister, and co-founder, Sarah about their recent stint at the Spirit of Christmas Fair. ‘Quite often they laughed or just smiled wide!’
Bramwell Brown is a highly innovative company that is reinventing classic time-pieces into uniquely engaging clocks. Designed and hand-assembled in Britain, they create Weather Clocks and Tide Clocks that are imaginative and perfect for the modern home, with their mechanically animated layers of limited edition artwork making them very special purchases.
Discussing how the idea came around offers a clear indication of how the two bounce perfectly off of each other. ‘The inspiration came from the fact our dad had an old Grandfather Clock at the family home,’ Rob starts the story. ‘I wanted something similar for my home now, but really there wasn’t anyone making what I was looking for. There were antiques or digital clocks – I felt that surely someone could do a better job.’
‘Something that was of interest to our generation,’ adds Sarah.
‘So I asked Sarah about doing something and if she would get involved,’ Rob carries on. ‘We then started to develop the idea. We started with a flimsy prototype on my kitchen table [in Angel] and that was two and half years ago. We then started seeking out mechanical advice.’
‘And were told it wouldn’t work!’ Sarah exclaims. ‘That simply fuelled…’
‘Our desire to do it,’ Rob finishes off the sentence.
So they did. Was there ever have an inkling the siblings would run a business together? ‘A little bit,’ nods Rob. ‘As a family we get on really well. We do work well together and if anything it improved our understanding of each other. Certainly our communication is better these days. As an entrepreneur it can be quite testing at times. You do question yourself, but when two of you work together for a common goal, it helps you get through the tough times.’
The mechanical aspects of the clocks are wonderful to admire, but I add that the designs work in the modern day home too. ‘When we started showing it to people we realised we had hit upon an interesting thing, something perfect for contemporary homes,’ Rob smiles. ‘We felt it was the charm of the mechanics.’
‘It’s important to say old traditional barometer clocks are almost all pretty accurate,’ Sarah points out. ‘It boils down to how you read them and analyse the information they give you. Our generation are probably not used to analysing that, so our clocks analyse it for you.’
There’s a nice touch that part of the proceeds go towards the Marine Conservation Society, and they will work with different artists to create the designs you see on the ‘mechanimated clocks’, meaning you will end up owning something unique for your home. And as I stare at the clock in The Place once again, Rob sums up a rather important part of our culture: ‘The British love to talk about the weather.’
WORDS Mark Kebble
Visit bramwellbrown.com to see the full range of clocks on offer