SKIPTON market trader David Hales, known to shoppers, residents and fellow traders as the Watch Doctor, died peacefully at his home in Ingleton on November 4 after a long illness at the age of 69.

David had traded on the market for more than 25 years and was regarded a true craftsman as well as one of the market’s great characters. Known for putting the love of his watch-repairing craft before monetary reward, he was the go-to person on Friday and Saturday market days for anything watch-related.

Sitting on his patch outside Rackhams he was happy in his work. His familiar response to a battery fitting request was often: “Have you any shopping to do? It’ll be about 20 minutes.” Often your watch was added to a growing pile, but it was always ready at the end of the allotted time.

He was a disappearing breed of watch repairers. He explained once that there were very few skilled watch and clock repairers left and those who were left preferred to work on clocks.

He said there was more money to be made in clock repairs but he was much more fascinated in the intricacies of the smaller timepieces. He always maintained he was happy to make enough money to get by on, which is one reason he didn’t charge a lot for repairs.

David was born in Nelson in 1951 the son of an electrician. He won a scholarship to grammar school but turned his back on a professional career because he loved working with his hands.

He joined his father’s business then went to a local engineering company where he qualified as a precision instrument maker in the aviation industry. He began to work abroad a great deal, going to airfields in Europe and learning an ever wider range of engineering skills.

Following this he came back home,, and took a job with electronics firm Lucas. Later he found himself working in the clockmakers’ quarter of Manchester. As mechanical watches became increasingly taken over by battery-powered quartz watches it resulted in another change for David who by this time had married, divorced and moved to Ingleton to turn his lifelong hobby of watch repairing into his work.

He and his partner of 29 years, Jean, ran the market stall in Skipton where he became a well-respected member of the Skipton market trader family.

A family funeral service is to take place at Waltonwrays crematorium on Wednesday, November 18. Friends can pay their respects when the cortege passes up and down the high street at 2.45pm.

David leaves Jean, his son, Craig, daughter, Clare, and grandchildren George, Camilla and Jesse.