William Potts was born in December 1809 and was apprenticed to Samuel Thompson, a Darlingtonclockmaker. In 1833, at the age of 24, William moved to Pudsey near Leeds, to set up his own business. Initially the business was primarily concerned with domestic timepieces, however this gradually expanded into the manufacture and repair of public clocks.
In 1862 the business moved to Guildford Street, Leeds, and later, a workshop for public clocks opened nearby in Cookridge Street. This heralded the most productive and profitable years of the business with large numbers of public clocks being installed both home and abroad for cathedrals, churches, town halls, schools, engineering works and railways.Queen Victoria granted the company a Royal Warrant in 1897.
The business was renamed William Potts & Sons Limited as a result of three of William’s sons joining the company, however, after the First World War, two sons started their own clockmaking business, Tom Potts left in 1928 and Charles Potts left in 1930. William Potts & Sons Limited joined the Smith of Derby Group in 1935, but very wisely, with such a well-recognised name, Potts retained its identity and the Leeds base. Today the Potts name is still recognised and active in the north of Britain.
It is claimed that there are more than 1600 Potts clocks in existence around England.