Unmarried brothers seek heir to take on world's largest collection of cuckoo clocks

  • 6 months ago
Two unmarried brothers are seeking an heir to take on the world's largest cuckoo clock collection.

Roman and Maz Piekarski have spent five decades sourcing 750 pendulum-driven devices, which they display at their 'Cuckooland' museum.

But as time ticks down on their careers, the eccentric siblings - who have no kids - are now desperate to find someone to take on their metronomic hoard before it’s too late.

Roman said: “I’m 71 and Maz is 69, and we have not got anybody to leave it to.

"It’s the world’ s largest collection – and we have 750 of them.

“It would be wonderful if we could get someone to take it on, it really would be.”

Roman and Maz said they’d become fascinated with clocks as teens and went into the trade as apprentices after leaving school at 15.

But at just 28, Roman got the devastating news he had the neurological disease multiple sclerosis (MS) - and was given just three years to live.

Not wanting to saddle a family with his sickness, he didn't get married and instead pursued his passion for collecting cuckoo clocks with Maz.

And the brothers then went all around the world hunting down unique timepieces while trying to beat rival collectors from the US and Germany.

But after amassing the world’s largest collection at their museum, in Tabley, Cheshire, they now have no sons or daughters to leave it to.

Roman said: “When I copped MS I said to my brother, I’m going to stick with what I’m doing.

"I wasn’t going to get married because I didn’t want to burden anybody.

“I was given three years to live, but I’m still here today - 43 years on.

“For the last four years, I have been making small inquiries as to finding a body who could take it over. But I’ve not found a single person who could come in and run it.

“I’ve just about got it in me to teach someone how to do the guided tours and about the clocks and the different stories.

“And my brother’s got time to teach someone about doing the movements.

“But unfortunately, the youngsters of today tend to press buttons on a computer. And there are no apprenticeships anymore anyway.”

Roman said he and Maz caught the bug for cuckoo clocks in their 20s after learning that they all came from a 25-mile patch of the Black Forest, Germany.

And their finest pieces include one made for Frederick I, the Grand Duke of Barden, in the 1860s and another brought aboard a Lancaster bomber in World War Two.

But the rarest clocks can take years to aquire and the brothers have travelled to the four corners of the globe to secure them.

Roman said: “When we hear a whisper of a clock, we call it ‘the hunt’. I’ve been all over Europe and America.

“If it’s a special clock that’s come up for sale, I would do the deal and then get the next flight out of Manchester to the nearest airport to where the people live and then locate it and pay for it and then fly back – all in the same day.

“That’s dedication. And now we have got some very, very rare pieces.”

Roman said his greatest achievement was beating American and German collectors to a rare clock by sneaking into a sales exhibition one hour before it opened.

At the fair in the Black Forest, he laid eyes on the hotly desired 1860s hand-built clock that he’d been chasing for two years and quickly snapped it up.

He said: “I saw the clock and I went up and said, ‘Here’s a €500 note. Put the clock away for us and we will go for a drink tonight, and we will do the deal.

“The national museum in Germany wanted the clock, and they wouldn’t talk to me for two years.

“When they did, they asked the question bout the clock and how I’d found it before everyone else. I said ‘We have a saying in England: ‘First up best dressed’.

“The hotel where we were staying said we’d nearly started World War Three.”

Roman said he’d approached various people about taking on the collection but had not received any offers - despite getting praise from specialists and visitors.

He added: “The British museum got in touch with us, and they said ‘If we could lift your place and put it in our place, that would be the best thing we could do.

“And when people leave us, they are absolutely gobsmacked. People just can’t believe what we’ve managed to put together.

“In our 35-year history, we have never had a disappointed visitor.”