Clockwork

1 Mar

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About 10 years ago I started a local website called forestgate.com (I still own the domain name and use it for email, though the site is long gone). Of all the emails I received about the site, by far the most common request was for information about an artist who once lived and worked in Forest Gate, L Kersh.

Mr Kersh specialized in what he called “horological collages” – pictures made up from bits of clocks and watches, like the example above. These works have travelled far and wide and their owners were keen to know more about the artist and his work.

I posted a number of these requests on the site and, quite remarkably, various members of Mr. Kersh’s family got in touch. They were proud to know how much pleasure people continued to get from his work:

I found your website on a link from Ebay while I was trying to find work done by Len Kersh.

I am proud to say he was my Uncle, he was married to my Aunty Marion (my Mum’s Sister). I remember as a child going over to over to see them regularly at their house in Station Road, Epping, Essex, UK.

I have fond memories of him and remember him being a lovely Uncle. His Wife now lives in Spain but stays in touch with My Mum on the phone & sometimes pops over to the UK to visit her.

Another wrote:

Just want to let you know that Len Kersh was my uncle and he passed away a few years ago. He had three daughters and I would love to have contact with them.

I live in Sydney, Australia. Thanks to the internet I was able to find cousin Nigel and would love to find these other cousins. I actually met one of them at the factory in 1977.

and cousin Nigel also got in touch:

L (Len) Kersh of London was my grandfather’s nephew. Len’s father, Jack Kersh and my grandfather, Michael Kersh were brothers. They were born in Riga in Latvia, and emigrated to the United Kingdom (Sunderland in Jack’s case, and Glasgow, in my grandfather’s case), where they lived out the rest of their days.

The story goes that Len was a “bit of a lad” in his youth, and got into all sorts of trouble. He eventually left home in Sunderland, and made his way to London. There he lost touch with his family, but made good by developing an idea with which he had helped a family member do a school project – the making of collages from old odds and ends. Ultimately this developed into his “horological collages” with which so many people are now familiar the world over.

I only recently made contact with Jack Kersh’s side of the family as he and my grandfather apparently fell out over some matter, and never saw one another again. It was only by chance that the daughter of one of Len’s brothers, Bennie Kersh contacted me from Australia. I now have the missing pieces of our family tree, and it’s quite something.

I don’t know what happened to Len, but I do know that his brother Charles is still alive and well and living in South Africa, where I am in contact with him through his son, also named Jack. I’ve asked him for further information about Len, but I’m not sure if he will have any further information beyond what I have described above. I do know that Len, Bennie and Charles had four sisters – Ethel, Elsie, Eva and Rose, and I’d love to know what became of them and of Len’s children, if he had any.

I hope that fills in some of the missing information on my distant cousin.

As can be seen from the certificate of authenticity that accompanied every piece he produced Kersh’s studio (or “factory” as his niece called it) was at 332 Romford Road. Sadly, there’s nothing now there to tell the world that this was where Kersh worked.

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16 Responses to “Clockwork”

  1. Brian Pickett March 24, 2014 at 14:35 #

    I believe that prior to the works being at number 332 ( almost opposite Wag Bennets gym ), they were further east along the Romford road. It was situated on the same block as the old Forest Gate police stn, 3 or 4 doors along from the wagon & horses pub, and my mother worked there in the very early 70’s

  2. Lorraine May 20, 2014 at 19:42 #

    Hello found this site after much trawling the Internet trying to find information on L.Kersh,
    I have been looking for RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 with the Statue of Liberty,it has the genuine label 1975 on back of collage with signature and I can’t find anything anywhere,any information would be appreciated Thankyou:-)

  3. Amanda June 21, 2014 at 12:43 #

    Hello, I have the original RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 with the statue of liberty. It has the ‘worldwide copyright’ etc, ‘hand made in England’ stamps in capital letters and the signed L.Kersh paper label on the back (1975) in good condition. Apparently the back of the picture has the number 32 hand written in pencil, don’t know what that means. Anyway, looking to sell as I am down sizing and I just woundered if anyway knew the value that I could expect.

  4. narendra lodhia December 15, 2014 at 18:43 #

    Len and I were great friends. When he ssold his business on royalty % , I was his commissioned sales man for UK and holland. After the company went bankrupt , I took over together with nitya his daughter and carried on for good 2 years until she was diagonised Cancer. len and I sold 100s of portrauits. I like to meet you kindly ciontact me.I still have 100s of collages, I wqas known to the family as Robin or Rob.Romford Rd factiory ? Remember?

    • Nigel Kersh September 3, 2015 at 18:59 #

      Hi, Narendra. I just spotted your message on the Forest Gate site. You mentioned that you were friends with Len Kersh. Are you still in touch with any of his family. I have someone who would like to make contact with his next of kin with regards to making a movie, and using some of Len’s artwork in the film. Please contact me directly on nckersh@013.net if you have any information. Best regards, Nigel Kersh, Ra’anana, Israel.

  5. David Derbyshire January 11, 2015 at 11:58 #

    I bought 2 at a market on Bayswater Road in the early 70s – Tower Bridge and London Bus still have them.

  6. George Georgiou March 10, 2015 at 21:50 #

    I have the Brighton Belle dated 1978 by L Kersh, I look at it and wonder how long it would have taken to do all that work of art, and what type of clocks all the pits he used come from, Mr Kersh has been under estimated if you ask me, scrap clock made into wonderful work of art.
    Their should be a gallery so others can see his work.
    George Georgiou, Cleethorpes.

  7. Mathew jones June 8, 2015 at 14:40 #

    I have the Alfa romeo 1930 I would like to know what its worth as not seen one on the web

  8. Howard Spialter June 18, 2015 at 21:19 #

    I have one entitled “TIME” for Law & Order. Any idea as to value?

  9. Nigel Kersh September 3, 2015 at 19:00 #

    If anyone has any way of contacting any of Len Kersh’s family, please let me know.

    • lee November 23, 2016 at 20:00 #

      Hi Nigel

      Noted your interest on the forest gate

      Im Len Kersh’s oldest grandson my mother Nita was his oldest daughter . I used to work weekends for him as a youth selling his pictures from varioussits incuding Bayswater Road

      I live in Mayfair London not sure if we are related be fun to make a film As a child Ihe used to pick me up on satuday morning and drive me round with him on his business and I met many of his gangland contacts in the East end There are various colurfull tales in his background !

      My Mother Nita died of Cancer in 2000 but His other daughters Gloria and Carol are still alive I can put uoi in touch

      I was great friend to our uncle Lens cousin )Rabbi Bernard Kersh Who I think was the Bishop of Sunderland and i think the acting Chief Rabbi of ireland and there is famous book called from Juddaism to Catholicism which is also a great tale . Uncle Bernard told me we are related To the famous lyricist Don Black ( Kersh ) Andrew Lloyd webbers songwriter

      He was a gentleman a great mentor

  10. Jason March 21, 2016 at 09:26 #

    I too now own an origional by L.kersh. It is of a 1902 Packard and hand signed, also has the authenticity label and stamp on the back. I live in southern California and im happy to say this awesome piece of Mr. kersh’s work has made it all the way here and is in great shape still. I proudly display it on my way with many other amazing works from others. Its cool to know i own a little bit of the kersh legacy.

  11. Melissa H December 9, 2016 at 23:22 #

    I recently purchased an original L Kerch of London horological collage , and am fascinated with it. I have purchased “The General 1862” . Unfortunately in shipping it has suffered much damage I question if anyone knows which type of adhesive was used?

  12. Mandie Greenham September 10, 2017 at 19:45 #

    Hi just found your page. I’d like to add to the family tree. I’m am the grand daughter of len kersh amanda. Granddad len had 3 daughters from his first wife Marie, their name where Lenita carol and Gloria. Lenita had 2 children Lee and Rhonda and they have their own children now too.
    Unfortunately Lenita pasted away some years ago now due to cancer.
    Carol had 3 children. Ian john and Debbie which also have children and grand children.
    Gloria had 2 children amanda and Donna and they too have children So the family tree expands a great deal these days.

    I remember going to the studio as a kids and running around exploring all the rooms. It was mad in there full of cardboard bubble wrap and lots of people sorting out watch parts.

    After grandad len gave up the business, his daughter Gloria and kelvin ( my mum and dad) took over and they carried on making the pictures for many years trading under Regal clocks.

    Sadly Today the business is no more, but them times hold good memories for me and my family.

    • Nigel Kersh September 11, 2017 at 10:27 #

      Hi, Amanda (or is it Mandie…?),

      Good to hear from you.

      Please send me your email address and I should be able to send you information on your grandfather. He sounded like quite a character. I can also send you my family tree, which will show you his origins.

      Nice to be in touch.

      With best regards,

      Nigel Kersh
      nckersh@013.net
      Israel

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