Mr Barker, at the age of 81, is one of only a few accredited clock conservators, protecting and repairing some of the world's finest hand-crafted machines.
A heady tang of polish and engine oil fills his workshop on the fringes of the Yorkshire Dales where he works under the clocks’ ballad of rhythmic ticks.
Here is a master at work, with a rare expertise, and a true Yorkshireman's short shrift when it comes to authenticity.
To call a long case clock a grandfather is an Americanism, he argues, while of a modern trend towards minimalism he reflects on the merits of "quality clutter".
"I'm interested in clocks and country house and church architecture, and I do like a bit of dry rot in my religion," he said.
On his other hobby, as a long-time member of the Vintage Motorcycle Club with which he still rides, he added: "They are both about gears. The first ever gearboxes were in clocks and windmills."
Mr Barker, born in Methley near Pontefract on the eve of Britain's declaration of war in 1939, had been destined for a life in the mines like his father and grandfathers before him.
It was his mother's intervention, insisting upon an education, that had kept him from the coalfields as he secured a scholarship to art school instead.
As a child he had been introduced to the workings of mechanics by his grandfather next door, who would tinker endlessly with pigeon fancier’s race recording clocks.
"I used to play with these tickers, watch him work," recalled Mr Barker. "He was what I would call a 'big hammer' man, working with a pigeon feather for oiling and a soldering iron.
"And his grandfather clock, as far as I was concerned, was the only one in the village. I learned to tell the time on his clock. It made an impression on me."
His conservation career, launched under the encouragement of a man called Christopher Gilbert, once head of museums and galleries in Leeds, had propelled after a magazine article came to the attention of Antiques Roadshow host Arthur Negus, who enquired about a collaboration. So was born a book by Mr Barker entitled 'The Arthur Negus Guide to English Clocks' in 1979.
A medley of clocks
Ever since, it’s been about clocks. There are lacquer clocks, carriage clocks, and a winged lantern with a ringing peal so piercing it isn't wound for fear it will interrupt the news.
Most striking are the long case clocks, or grandfathers, of all sizes. There are moon dials of every description, including one by Thomas Ogden of Halifax, and another from the Wigton school of clockmaking in Cumbria engraved with the phrase 'memento mori', or 'remember death'.
The past year has seen much of his traditional work covered in dust sheets, with museums and country houses closed. Instead, he has seen a recent influx of private custom, as people take stock of their immediate environments.
One clockface he is repairing in the workshop features a lunar calendar and tidal dial, from about 1750. This John Greaves example, with an engraved and silvered dial and walnut case, was loaned for exhibition at the Oxford Museum of History and Science in 2012.
Age of craftsmanship
"Clocks are a wonderful blend of carved wood and metal and engraving," said Mr Barker. "I know time is important, but I'm more interested in the aesthetics.
"To a lover of fine clocks, time is not the most important thing. The quality and the craftsmanship that has gone into creating it is."
Mr Barker, a fellow of the British Horological Institute, has worked on some of the nation’s best clocks with the National Trust, English Heritage, and country houses throughout the North. He maintains contracts with the York Civic Trust, York Council, and the Bronte Parsonage Museum.
And while he is one of only a few accredited conservators of his kind, he has praised training incentives which he believes will soon see talented craftsmen coming through.
"Times are changing, conservation is now a well considered issue," he said. "That message has been absorbed, I've great confidence that all will be well in the future."
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