Brisbane Public Clocks is divided into 3 parts - Brisbane Central, Brisbane North & Brisbane South, with Golf Club Clocks, Sundials in Brisbane, Adina Clocks & Herga & Co. at the bottom of this page. Access the snaps by clicking on any underlined title. The latest postings are highlighted in red.
Brisbane Central - Fortitude Valley Kodak, City Hall, South Brisbane Town Hall, Central Railway Station, South Brisbane Railway Stn, The Windmill, Brisbane Arcade, RNA Showgrounds, GPO, Rossignol Warehouse, Fortitude Valley Police Stn, McWhirter's & the Calile Hotel, Turbot St. Car Park, Rolex Shops, Myer Center, Digital Clocks.
Brisbane North - St Andrews, Sandgate Library, Redcliffe Jetty Pavillion, Ambrose Treacy College Indooroopilly, Toowong War Memorial, Nudgee College, BBC (Brisbane Boys College), Ithaca War Memorial, UQ at St.Lucia, Keperra Retirement Village, Little Jewell Boondal, Camelas Tower Red Hill, Nundah.
Brisbane South - MGTower Dutton Park, Kirilpa Library Westend, Bulimba Ferry Terminal, Archerfield Airport, Wooloongabba, City Pointe College Mansfield, Bulimba, Wellington Point, Capalaba Tower, Holland Park West.
1. Brisbane Central -
In 1958 Kodak built a three-storey building at 252 St. Paul’s Terrace, Fortitude Valley.
This tower clock, plainly visible as you drive North over the Story Bridge was a later edition to the four-level building erected in 1958. Kodak, the new occupiers, had been in Queen St. opposite the GPO in a narrow six-storey building constructed in 1914 (demolished in the 1970’s). Kodak used these premises to 2017, when it was sold for $10.5m. & leased to Kaplan Australia, a business school for overseas students. Sold in 2022, it is now leased by Gamma College an international training center for the business & hospitality industry.
View from Story Bridge
Little is known about the origin of this clock. It is electric with 3 dials facing West, South & East enabling it to be viewed from St. Pauls Terrace. Although the original 1958 plans included a tower with a clock, pictures from the 1960’s of this Kodak building show no clock. It is not until the 1970’s that a clock appears in the tower. When photographed only the South facing clock was working. Co-incidentally, the original 1914 Kodak building had a similar tower on its rooftop without a clock.
Brisbane City Hall Opened in 1930
This Italian Renaissance style building made of granite and sand-stone with a 92m. tower is truly spectacular. Corinthian columns, a statue of King George V, two bronze lions, a carved tympanum and inside a magnificent organ with over 4000 pipes and a copper-domed circular auditorium seating up to 1500, came at a massive cost - £1m.
The clock when built was the largest in Australia. The synchronome master clock imported from England was a duplicate of the one at Greenwich Observatory. Synchronome Brisbane then built the four clock dials, the hands and the 60 slave mechanisms needed for the building. The 4 dials weighing 3 tons were 5m wide and filled with white opal held by over 1000 screws. The copper minute hands were 3m long and the hour hands 1.7m. The exciting part is that the original hand-operated lift still operates and takes one up the middle of the tower pausing as it passes through the clock room then on to an observation deck at 73m. (bottom right picture) operating daily for free. Because the lift runs through the clocks a separate movement was required for each dial. From the 1950's the slaves in the building were removed and a master clock put into the tower.
The bells sounding the Westminster chimes can be heard across the CBD - one 4.3 tonne 2m diameter bell strikes an 'A' flat on the hour and 4 smaller bells at over 3 tonnes each strike the quarter hours.
For Brisbane this recently renovated building with a museum is a major tourist attraction and a must for clock lovers.
South Brisbane Town Hall Tower Clock
This elegant red brick structure built in 1892 for £11,000 in the Italian Classic Revival style, though called a Town Hall, was actually offices for the South Brisbane Council. With 2 main storeys and a 20m tower (accessed by a series of wooden ladders) it was easily visible across early Brisbane. The four 1.8m clock dials illuminated by 10 lights were installed 12 years later in 1904 by Synchronome Electrical Co. Australasia at a cost of £100. This was their first tower clock in Australia and also the first electrically driven clock. The master clock, located in the Town Clerk's Office, was linked to 6 slave clocks. Although electrically controlled, it needed a weight driven mechanism to move the hands every 30 seconds when released by the electrical impulse.
Climbing up a narrow staircase and manually winding this clock every week was a job done by a member of our club, Greg Baker, Government Horologist, from 1978 until he retired in 1999.
The building has had a colourful history. Its use as municipal offices ceased in 1925. City engineers then took over followed by the American Military during WW11 and then into flats for Council workers. From 1955-1979 the Queensland Conservatorium of Music occupied it and then TAFE in the 1980/90's. Heritage listed in 1992, it has since 1999 been part of the
Somerville House Girls School.
Today the basement is run as a cafe called "Under the Clock Cafe". Top spot to have a latte while viewing this historical Brisbane landmark.
Brisbane Central Railway Clock
This is Central Station, Brisbane in Ann Street. It was erected in 1899 in Federation style and designed by renown Australian architect JJ Clark - who also designed The Treasury building. The sandstone clock tower above the main entrance was built later in 1901. The four-dial mechanical clock was built by Gillett & Johnston of Croydon, England. State Heritage listed 1992, this elegant clock tower is now dwarfed by surrounding high-rise.
Beside the Grand Central Hotel on the footpath of Ann St. is a single dial Brisbane Synchronome (the Central Railway clock tower in background).
South Brisbane Railway Station Clock
This Renaissance-styled masonry station was built in 1891 and is the second oldest station in Brisbane after Roma Street. It was the terminus of the standard gauge railway from Sydney to Brisbane until 1878 when the Merivale Bridge was built allowing Roma Street to become the interstate terminus. In 1992 it was heritage listed.
The notable feature of this station is that it still retains much of its original platform furniture and the original clock hanging on the front entrance. This Brisbane Synchronome Time Systems clock has been a permanent feature for over 100 years as the 3 pictures from 1902, 1968 and 2019 show.
The Windmill Tower, Spring Hill, Brisbane - once a Time Ball Station.
Main Details - Built by convicts in 1828, it was the home of a time ball. The Tower is a circular stone and brick structure, standing 16m. with a base of 8.4m in diameter, tapering to 4.5m at the top. Here there is an observation platform with a hexagonal timber cabin. Starting as a treadmill it became an Observatory with a time ball operating to 1930 and then had many uses including night fire spotting and television transmission. Heritage listed in 1992, it remains one of Queensland’s oldest structures and a valuable monument to Brisbane’s history of time keeping.
Reason Built - The tower was first used to grind wheat and corn. It had two sets of millstones, one using sails to power the grinder - the other using convicts on a treadmill. But with little wind for the sails, the treadmill became the only power source - a very cruel form of convict punishment. The grinding of grain in this mill had ceased by 1849.
Time Keeper Facts - Its location in the CBD, high above the Brisbane river, made it ideal for use as a signal station and Observatory (see picture from late 19thC. above). From 1855 shipping news from the mouth of the Brisbane river about 15km away, was sent to the Tower. In 1861 it had a time ball added to allow watches and clocks to be set/regulated. At 1pm the time ball would drop based on observations relayed by telegraph from Sydney. In 1865 a flag staff was erected to inform the public of ships entering the Brisbane river (the information relayed by telegraph from Fort Lytton). The time ball was replaced with a time gun between 1866 and 1894 to fire the 1pm time signal. Reports that Ipswich 30km away could hear the canon fire! In 1894 a new electrically controlled time ball and a new regulator clock was installed. In 1902 it was connected to the telegraph at Roma Street railway station. But modern technology had made time balls round the world unnecessary. The ball ceased to drop in 1930 with the new City Hall clock becoming the main time regulator for Brisbane.
The New Regulator bought for the Windmill in 1894 - was made by Victor Kullberg, a Swedish clock maker who lived from 1824 to 1890. Moving to London in 1851 he became one of England’s premier chronometer makers, winning many awards. It was ordered by Queensland as the new mean time clock for the Standard Time Act (the first in Australia). Today this regulator is on display at the Museum of Lands Mapping & Surveying, 317 Edward Street along with two other regulators (refer Snapshots 'Special Interest' - Museums).
Inside the Tower - On Brisbane Open House Day 2019, I was able to climb the narrow spiral staircase and stand in the observation room within hands-reach of the actual time ball that had been installed in 1894. Parts of the winding mechanism still exist.
The Brisbane Arcade
A visit to this stunning 95 year old art deco arcade now Heritage Listed that links Adelaide with Queen Streets in Brisbane's CBD is well worth the time. Designed by Richard Gailey Junior, it was built between 1923/24 at a cost of £70,000. This 3-level arcade features beautiful woodwork, lead-lighting, terrazzo floors and many boutique shops.
There are two Synchronome Brisbane 2foot dial (61cm) impulse 'slave' clocks hanging upstairs at either end with a distinctive green metal edge, a red bezel and enamel dials. Both work using a modern electronic impulse board and one can hear the very audible 'clunk' of the hands moving every 30 seconds.
These clocks were installed in July 1924. The master or 'seconds controller' still hangs beside the upstairs cafe but is inactive. Total cost for this array was £55.
The Brisbane GPO - 1872 to 1910
The Original Plan
This heritage listed sandstone structure designed by F Stanley has an interesting history. Initially the plan was for two identical wings with a central tower rising 100 feet (30.48m) featuring a three-faced clock.
The East wing was built first in 1872 costing £7450. However the clock tower costing another £4,000 was considered too lavish, so a 4½ foot (1.4m) dial clock with striking bells costing only £150 was placed into the centre of the East wing gable. It was illuminated by a gas-powered light. The West wing with the central tower reduced in height by half was completed in 1879 at a cost of £19,417. The rest of the building through to Elizabeth Street was finished by 1908.
The call for a more visible clock to look up and down Queen Street, resulted in the removal of the gable clock in 1908 and a double-faced electric clock was hung from the central tower. In the mid/late 1960's this clock due to time-keeping issues was taken down and a smaller electric clock put back into the East wing gable where it has remained to today. The empty circular West wing recess without a clock creates a slightly unbalanced look! What do you think?
Brisbane's GPO Clock from 1910 to 1970 - the Synchronome Era
In 1910 the new 'Brisbane Synchronome' clock with a double-sided 1½m lit dial hung from a 2.1m iron bracket, was enthusiastically received by the public. It replaced a 35year old clock prone to breaking down, cost less to operate (only 5s per year in electricity) and was much more visible to people in Queen Street. The hand movements were controlled by a small weight which was wound by an electric motor every hour. This clock was also prone to malfunction and was removed in the late 1960's.
Plans were drawn up for a 25m clock tower to be added to the existing building in 1971, but this was shelved for a smaller electric clock to be put back into the East wing gable cavity where it remains today.
Remarkably this 1910 clock has resurfaced in 2018 relatively intact and now displayed at Harringtons Antiques. It has no makers name on the dial, matching the 1960's postcard. Originally the clock had 'Brisbane Synchronome' on the dial (as in the 1917 postcard).
Relics of this early set-up still exist at the PO - the master clock from 1909 and a slave from one of the offices in the GPO.
Dial close-ups - left from the 1920's and right from the 1960's.
The RNA Showgrounds Clock
The annual Brisbane Exhibition, the “Ekka”, held in August, has been running since 1876. Here the agricultural lifestyle of our rural workers is brought to the city with animal and fashion parades, wood chopping, equestrian events, a side-show alley and showbags. It has become one of Brisbane’s most popular attractions with over 400,000 visitors over the 10 days it operates.
Of interest is the clock spire atop the main ringside grandstand. The latter was erected in 1906 at a cost of £6248, with a seating capacity of 2,250 people. In 1923 it was named the John MacDonald Stand and was heritage listed in 2003. The timber spire supports a cupola (dome) and a four-faced electric clock.
The Rossignol Warehouse (corner of Warry & Water Streets, Fortitude Valley)
This building has had a colourful history. Constructed in the 1920’s it was first occupied by FT Groves, a blacksmith from 1926 to 1933. For the next 40years it was a warehouse for Malley’s Whitegoods. Here the first cooler was manufactured under the trademark “esky’ in 1952. From the 1980’s to 2006 it was home to agents for Lloyd’s of London and other marketing and advertising companies.
When this building was refurbished in the 1980’s, two Synchronome Electric clocks were obtained from the Fortitude Valley Railway Station after renovations there. They were put into the gables facing Warry and Water St. (not wired in) to improve the overall appearance and add character to this building.
Water St. frontage
A 5year long repurposing of Rossignol Warehouse (2006-2011) to a dual occupancy residence (a main residence with an attached apartment for guests) was completed. The two clocks make this building something special and even though they have aged and are presently not working, the areas local history has been respectfully retained.
Warry St frontage
Fortitude Valley Police Station
This two-storied L-shaped building designed by respected architect Ray Nowland at the corner of Brookes & Wickham Streets was opened on 6th Jan. 1936. Built of red-face brick with arched sash windows a portico entrance framed by 4 columns, it is an arresting structure!
Of interest to the club is the clock featured prominently above the entrance. It has a 1m diameter uncovered black dial installed by Synchronome Brisbane in 1936. The station was heritaged listed 24th June 1999.
Two More Fortitude Valley Clocks -
A 60s electric impulse 2-sided street clock on a 3m steel pole. It is beside the heritage listed 1912 McWhirters building.
The Calile Hotel Resort built in 2018, with 175 rooms, is located on James St. Fortitude Valley. On the street corner is a 7m tower with a double-sided synchronous 60 second impulse clock.
Rolex shop Queen St. doubled sided 60s
Turbot St. car park in Brisbane's CBD. Single dial electric.
'Watch Works' Myer Centre 60s impulse
The Hour Glass 171 Edward St. seller of luxury watches.
Digital Clocks – is this the Future for Public Clocks?
One cannot help but notice the emergence of digital public clocks. Probably not surprising given the complexity of finding skilled repairers for aging tower clocks. Here are a few Brisbane examples.
The most notable - the SGIO Building (today the Suncorp Plaza), located close to the City Hall, was built back in 1971. A 4-sided, 10m² clock incorporating 668 bulbs was erected advertising SGIO. It was then the tallest Brisbane structure at 118m. and the highest clock in Australia. In 1985 the SGIO logo was changed to Suncorp. In a 2007 building refit, a red stripe was painted down the middle and sides of the building and the logo removed. Surviving several storms that smashed bulbs and the proposal of demolition by 2021, Suncorp Plaza still stands in 2022 with a working clock. Dwarfed by surrounding high-rise though makes it difficult to view.
View from Spring Hill
A close-up - time is 10:18
View from City Hall
Schools have also started to erect digital information boards often with a clock and date. Maybe to make students aware of the time they arrive? This board is sited at Lourdes Hill College in Hawthorne.
On top of the Story Bridge Hotel, a billboard has time and temperature shown at its base on both sides.
At Redcliffe on a 5m pole is a double sided solar powered digital clock.
In front of the City Hall is a large screen with adverts, events and the weather. A digital clock displays the time and date in the bottom left-hand corner.
2. Brisbane North - St. Andrews, Sandgate Library, Redcliffe Jetty Pavilion, Ambrose Treacy College Indooroopilly, Toowong War Memorial, Nudgee College, Brisbane Boys College (BBC), Ithaca War Memorial, UQ at St. Lucia, RoyalQldGolfCourse (clock & sundial), Keperra Retirement Village, "Little Jewell" (Boondall), Camelas Tower (Red Hill), Nundah.
St.Andrew's Anglican Church Lutwyche Road, Brisbane
This imposing brickwork church was designed by Melbourne architect Louis Wilson. Opened on 8th August 1926, the 18m tower with a flag pole and cross on top included a clock with 13 bells struck by the clock hammers. This was rare for Churches in Brisbane. The bells were made by Lough-borough Bell Foundry in England and can be rung manually by the Churches active group of campanologists.
The tower clock has a 90cm dial controlled by a synchronome master clock. Both striking and chiming could be switched on or off at any time although today the chime is inactive and so is the clock. Update - the clock now operational.
Sandgate Town Hall and Clock Tower
The Sandgate Council erected this L-shaped building between 1911-1912 at a cost of £5000. Designed in Federation style by Thomas Hall - who partnered G. Prentice with the designs for the Brisbane City Hall and McWhirter's - it was initially clock-less to 1923. Heritage listed in 1995, with a $3.9m restoration in 2011 it is an impressive structure.
The tower rises 3 levels above the ground floor with a clock on the 2nd level and a bell on the 3rd. In 1924 the merging of all Brisbane councils saw this building become a community hall and library - as it remains to this day.
The acquisition of this 4-dial clock made by Gillett and Johnston of Croydon in England, makes interesting reading. Initially installed in the Ipswich Town Hall in 1877 tenders were called for its sale in 1912. Why? The new GPO built next door in 1901 came with a taller more grandiose illuminated clock tower - also the two clocks were rarely in sync. Herga and Co. of Brisbane bought it for £60.10s in May 1913 and then it sat under a house for 10 years before the Sandgate Council bought it for £325 off Herga & Co. It was then installed in 1923.
Now aged 140 years it is one of the oldest working clocks in Brisbane.
The blank dials left in the Ipswich Town Hall.
The Redcliffe Jetty Pavilion Clock
This classic art deco building was built in 1937 at a cost of £1500. It served as an entrance to the 150m jetty and as a bathing pavilion. Redcliffe had been very isolated until 1935, but this changed when a 2.74 km road bridge (the longest in Australia) was built. Previously this popular swimming area was accessed from Brisbane mainly by small launches.
The pavilion had 4 private bath cubicles and 2 toilet rooms. The admission charges were threepence for the use of a locker, shower and toilet but for a private cubicle the charge was sixpence an hour and a toilet room was threepence for 15 minutes.
The picture to the right shows today's jetty and pavilion.
The large (about 1m in diameter) clock was Redcliffe’s first public electric clock. Electricity had only been switched on here since 1928.
It has typical synchronome hands which click over every 30 seconds.
This place has many art deco buildings, lovely eateries and also one can revisit your youth by checking out the nearby Bee Gees Way – worth a visit.
Ambrose Treacy College with an impressive Clock Tower
This primary and secondary independent Catholic school for boys is located in Indooroopilly. Founded by the Congregation of Christian Brothers in 1938, as Nudgee Junior College, it was initially a boarding school then a day school from 1995. The present name was adopted in 2015. Located on the banks of the Brisbane River, it was taken over by the U.S. Army in 1942 and used as a hospital for serious burn cases from the U.S.S. Sims and Neosho. Round 160 personnel were stationed there.
The single dial clock was installed by Brisbane Synchronome in 1938. It cost £95.10s & had a 4foot dial. In 1986 the school had extensive renovations and the old master clock was replaced with a electronic Simplex System Master with a 60 sec. impulse.
Toowong Memorial Public Clock
This clock tower is located at the Toowong Shopping center, nestled in a hankerchief sized park. The 5m tower has a 3 dial synchronous clock with a 60second impulse. The park is dedicated to WW2 local veterans & also has a plaque for Amnesty International. On the ground is an interesting coloured tiled Aboriginal serpent with owls. It was built in 1996 as a community project by the Brisbane City Council & Chamber of Commerce.
Nudgee College Clock
Nudgee College has a freestanding two dial clock mounted on a 3m. metal pillar. Brought from England in 1895 by the Queensland Government, it was exhibited at the 1897 Queensland International Exhibition in Brisbane. Purchased by Heindorff & Co. in 1897 it stood on the footpath in Queen Street for many years. When it came up for auction in 1917 the College purchased it. However the installation on school grounds did not occur till 1928 when Synchronome Brisbane became involved. A working clock it ticks over every 60 seconds. Now an iconic structure at the school, the boys fondly call it “Big Ben”.
Brisbane Boys’ College in Toowong has an imposing clock tower.
BBC, built in the Mission Revival style, was opened in 1931. The tower today displays two working clocks facing S and W. The school archivist reports these clocks were not installed until 1961 as the cost had initially been too high, so the tower just had covered 'holes'. The Northern and Eastern side can still be seen in this state as a roof extension in 1947 partly hid these apertures making a clock there unnecessary. Etched on each dial beneath the twelve can be seen the word 'synchronome'.
In the main foyer hangs the master clock with its original movement & pendulum. Sadly this master is not working and the pilot clock and dial have been replaced by a quartz movement. There appears to be no record of when the master was disconnected or how the 3 tower clocks operate today. Thanks to Ian a BBC Old Boy who accompanied me to view these fine clocks.
Ithaca War Memorial Clock.
This stone memorial clock tower located on the corner of Latrobe and Enoggera Terrace, was designed and built by Arthur Thurlow of a local masonry firm. In 1918 the local community decided to raise funds to build a war memorial hall but the Council was worried about ongoing maintenance costs for this idea. By 1922 a decision was made to use the £650 raised to erect a stone clock tower in honour of the 130 local men who died on active service during WW1. The 4-dial clock, manufactured by the Synchronome Electric Company of Brisbane had its master clock next door in the Ithaca Fire Station. This type of memorial is rare and the only one in Brisbane. Heritage listed in 1992 it is still operational.
The University of Queensland at St. Lucia
The centrepiece of the University of Queensland, the Forgan Smith building was erected between 1937/39. A striking example of the Art Deco style, it is famous for its beautiful mix of lavender, cream and brown sandstone with cloistered structures and a central five-story tower featuring a synchronome clock - still in working order. The dial is semi camouflaged in the stoneware.
St. John’s College is located on the same campus - a residence for 300 students. Here is a French styled copper domed clock built with wood-fired bricks from Warwick, erected in 1999. It is the only clock tower at any Queensland university. The clock has a Swiss made movement and chimes the hours using Belgian made bells. At 8am, 1pm and 9pm they peal out the full Westminster chimes.
Keperra Sanctuary Retirement Village opened in 1992. Located at 998 Samford Road, 12km from Brisbane’s CBD, can be found a 4 dial tower clock. The village is set in 40 hectares of native gardens. The 12m tall tower with a 1.5m diameter clock dial allows residents to see the current time from anywhere in the village. Great idea. Like many newer clocks it is operated by an electronic 60second impulse movement with a dash replacing each numeral. Some snaps to show the mechanism inside this tower.
A Quirky Find in North Brisbane - the "Little Jewel" in Boondall.
In Sean Street Boondal it would be hard to miss this 'palace'. It is the brainchild of Francesco Fera, an Italian who moved to Brisbane in 1977 and decided to build his own home with a time line of 35 years. The castle features his love of clocks with a large 1m. exterior clock flanked by the Australian and Italian flags, many inside and even one on the boot of his 1936 Pontiac. Seeing is believing. Check out the video link and marvel at his detailed work both inside and out.
Camelas electric clock tower at a private residence Water St. Red Hill.
Nundah 1208 Sandgate Rd - corner location 60sec. impulse.
3. Brisbane South - MG Tower (Annerley), Kirilpa Library (Westend), Bulimba Ferry Terminal, Archerfield Airport, Wooloongabba, City Pointe Mansfield, Bulimba, Wellington Point, Capalaba Tower, Holland Park.
MG Clock Tower at Abingdon Motors 192 Annerley Road, Dutton Park.
This double-sided octagonal electric clock sitting atop a stone wall at MG Motors, was erected in the mid 1970’s. It provided the time for many motorists using this busy arterial road. However, in 1983 it was hit by lightening & was left to deteriorate for the next 31 years. A new owner who purchased this business in 2014 had the clock taken down for restoration – the only part worth keeping were the two dials. With a new movement, the rust & weather damage repaired, new hands, a plexi-glass dial cover & internal lighting added, the clock was back up & running. However, in Dec. 2014 the Southern side dial was shattered by a violent hailstorm. This setback was soon repaired. At the time this snap was taken (April 2023) only the Southern dial is working.
Kirilpa Library Tower Clock, Boundary Road, West End, Brisbane.
After WW1, communities all over Australia were planning and funding memorials to those who had served and paid the ultimate sacrifice. In West End, the Ladies War Memorial Committee were actively raising funds to build a memorial clock and bell tower (estimated cost £3500). The School of Arts Committee were also requesting a library. In 1928 the Brisbane City Council approved both ideas using City architect Alfred Foster as designer (who also designed the Fortitude Valley Baths). On completion in 1929 it became the first purpose built Council library in Queensland.
The 4-dial chiming mechanical clock was made in England as requested by the Ladies Committee. It plays the West-minster chimes and was one of only 3 bell tower clocks in Brisbane. Complaints in the 1980's saw the chimes decommissioned, though since 2007 the bells have been allowed to ring again from 9am to 6pm on weekdays and 10 to 6 on weekends.
The small but imposing Georgian style building was named 'Kirilpa Library', which is the Aboriginal name for the area meaning 'place of water rats'.
It was heritage listed in 2007. A brass plaque inside the doorway lists the names of the 87 fallen soldiers from the district. "Lest We Forget".
The Bulimba Ferry Terminal.
This terminal, built in 1922 linked with Teneriffe across the river. It is a striking building with an open timber-framed waiting shed and a gabled tiled roof. Above this is an octagonal tower with four clock dials installed by synchronome Brisbane, topped by a metal cupola. The next terminal 1km upstream at Hawthorne was built in 1924 in a similar style - but without the clock. Both terminals have been heritage-listed.
The clocks in this terminal enabled the ferries and the waiting trams to keep to an accurate timetable. However the Brisbane Courier in January 1930 bemoaned that the ferry & trams were hard to coordinate and suggested putting in a Bundy clock. This terminal is worth a visit and while you are there why not treat yourself to a trip upstream on a river cat. There are some fantastic sights including the Powerhouse, Story bridge, Customs House, South Bank and some incredible riverfront properties. Pickup is your choice at any number of stops upriver.
Synchronome Clock Enthusiasts - Archerfield Airport.
Tony & David have completed the restoration of the Synchronome timepieces located at Archerfield airfield in Brisbane. This beautiful art-deco building was opened in 1931 - the home to Qantas, Ansett ANA, Trans Australia Airlines & the Queensland Aero Club. It was Brisbane’s main airport up until 1949 and hosted the Royal Australian, US & Netherlands Air Force during WWII. Today it is used mainly for civil aviation and the Department of Emergency services rescue helicopter flights.
These pictures show the terminal building - below it the impressive passenger lounge with a wall painting of the original building. Next is the master clock and beneath a close-up of the lounge room slave clock. Finally 3 pictures of the slave clock mechanism which will be returned to the front facade to once again show the time to arriving planes. Note the method for turning the hands - a vintage bike chain!
Well done Tony and David for keeping alive these timepieces in this important heritage building.
A working metal cased synchronous clock in Woolloongabba.
Electric 60second impulse 4 dial at City Pointe School Mansfield.
Two dial electric facing Oxford St. Bulimba - not working.
Wellington Point - a Synchronome Brisbane 4 dial, 60s impulse (dial in each gable), erected in 1997.
A 3dial 60s impulse clock on
Capalaba Tower Court building Old Cleveland Road.
This clock tower is on the corner of Logan Rd & Arnold St. Holland Park West. Standing 11m tall it has a two dial synchronous movement with a 60s impulse. The Father Time logo relates to Synchronome Brisbane Pty. Ltd..
Clocks set on posts, roof-tops or digital boards can be spotted at many golf clubs. The Rolex & Tag Heuer brand can be seen at most major world golf championships. Used to control starting times, track players round the course (pace-of-play), display advertisements for sponsors & provide a gathering place for social events, the clock is a useful tool. With groups teeing off every few minutes, every golfer will be aware of the current time to avoid holding up play & during a game dodge being put “on the clock” for slow play. A quick look round Brisbane Golf Clubs has uncovered a few interesting timepieces.
Two Timepieces at the Royal Queensland Golf Club Brisbane.
The RQGC at Eagle Farm was established in 1920 and granted its Royal Charter by King George V in 1921. Of interest is the clock tower atop the Pro-shop, a new addition in 1992. The clock with 4 dials is easily seen by all players on the course. It has an electric 60second impulse. The logo on the dial identifies it as put in by T Klee of Synchronome Pty Ltd. The Gateway Motorway over the Brisbane River is seen in the back-ground. The original Brisbane Synchronome was installed in Oct. 1923. The 'master' had a 12inch dial and the 30inch 'slave' was set into the front of the main clubhouse. This was replaced by the present clock in 1992.
As a surprising bonus there is a sundial beside the Proshop. It is dedicated to Eric William Anning 1886 – 1929 who was a keen golfer, club captain and green-keeper. He was also credited with the design of the 14th. par 3 fairway improvement in the late 1920’s. The sundial has a Latin motto loosely translated to “I only count the hours that are serene/sunny”. With a correction dial to add or subtract minutes for each month it is not just an ’ornament’.
The Brisbane Golf Club – dates to 1896 when a clubhouse was built in Chelmer. In 1904 the club was moved to Yeerongpilly but lasted only to 1910 when fire destroyed it. The new one built then remains with some additions. A large electric clock with a 60s impulse was donated by Frank Ramsey in 1910 & was originally located on the veranda railings. In the 1960’s it was attached to a post where it can be seen by members today as they walk to the starting hole.
The St.Lucia Golf Club – has a clock tower on the top of outdoor seating area providing a gathering place for patrons. It has only two dials with one facing the main tee off area. It is electric with a 60 sec impulse.
The Palmer Golf Course at Robina – this eye-catching 4 dial clock tower sits on top of a club house where all social activities take place (Conferences, weddings, dining, etc). It provides clear viewing for the golfers playing on the greens below. A weather vane sits on top. None of the 4 dials were working when this shot was taken.
Sundials in Brisbane.
This ancient type of clock commonly found on buildings and in parks and gardens of European cities, is very much a rarity in Brisbane. A stand-out though does exist.
The Planetarium Courtyard (Botanic Gardens Mt. Coot-tha, Toowong) has a unique translucent 6m diameter sundial built in 1980 with the gnomon’s shadow cast on the numerals underneath through frosted glass panels. The triangular gnomon is made of small parallel tubes with the highest pointing South. To convert to Brisbane time, one adds or subtracts the minutes according to the Equation of Time (EOT) chart fixed at eye level on the central pole. January 24 and March 3 are the only two days of the year where a correction is not required. For most of the year the sun is ahead of time with November having the greatest difference of 28 minutes fast. The yearly variation is drawn as a curve with each month having 3 dates – 8th, 15th and 22nd.
At the same location is a small stone cairn sundial erected by the Floral Art Society in 1991. Not an easy one to read with the adjustment minutes lined down each side of the gnomon and an elliptical wavy line running through each month. It has a motto “I only tell of sunny hours”.
Other Sundials found in Brisbane -
Goodna - Wallaby's tail acts as the gnomon
Coopooroo SHS - no gnomon
Eagle Junction SHS Clayfield
Hibiscus Gardens - Brisbane CBD
Highgate Hill - no gnomon
Go to 'Did You Know' on Snapshots to find more information explaining the accuracy and types of sundials.
Adina – A Brisbane family-based clock and watch company.
Founded in 1971 by Bob Menzies, Adina has become successful Australia-wide. Although mainly watch focussed, they do have an impressive catalogue of clocks including wall, mantle, alarm, Grandfather and desk clocks in both quartz and mechanical.
The ‘Penrod’ Memorial Clock at the Anglican Church Grammar School (ACGS or ‘Churchie’), was built in 1913 of mainly red brick in Gothic style. It is a prestigious independent day and boarding school for boys in East Brisbane. The clock on the Young Building was donated in 1970 by parents Jim and Elizabeth Schmidt as a tribute to their son, Penrod.
This clock set in a brick wall overlooking the oval and tennis courts had not worked for several decades. Enter ‘Adina’ and Bob Menzies a Churchie Old Boy who was commissioned in 2017 to repair the clock. He put in a Belgium made master and slave electric system specially designed for extreme weather and high accuracy with a GPS allowing the clock to reset itself in the event of power outages. The hands (minute hand is 1m) and numbers were of laser cut steel – originally painted white but now in ‘Churchie Cream’ – an official Dulux colour. It was up and running in 2019.
Two other Adina clocks in Brisbane - a double-sided electric Adina clock is hanging in the entrance hall to the University of Queensland.
Easts Hockey Club in Carina, Brisbane, has a large Adina electric clock featured on their score board.
Herga & Co. – a Prominent Brisbane Jeweller.
In 1888, Alphonse Herga opened a watch repair shop in Queen Street. In 1894 he apprenticed Frederick Bright and Herga & Co. was formed. Whilst in Queen St. they established an industry specialising in chronographs, repeaters, perpetual calendars and importing ladies & gents watches.
In 1927 a new shop was opened at 181 Edward Street and Frederick's son Edward was apprenticed. They were now importing barometers and electric clocks from England and also dealing with the rating and correction of daily time by electric signals from the Observatory. The task of supplying Queensland schools and Government Departments with fine wall clocks was another important responsibility.
From 1939 to 1945 they repaired navigation instruments for the American Navy at night and continued with their normal work during the day. By the 60's the focus changed to producing surveying equipment.
In 1972 Herga & Co. was appointed to be the Australian dealership for Geodimeter. Today this 4th generation business has morphed into a global electronic industry dealing in UPG and Geosystems.
Examples of Herga & Co Clocks found in Brisbane.
Today, Herga clocks have become quite collectible. They are uniquely Australian and can still be found hanging in many establishments.
From the early 1900’s, Herga & Co was a very successful nation-wide industry importing English clock movements and placing them into Australian made timber cases – notably Silky Oak, Cedar and Maple. Their wall clocks were in high demand in Queensland schools and Government Departments.
The Brisbane Police Museum opposite Roma Street Railway Station, has two Herga & Co. Brisbane drop dial school clocks. The larger Cedar clock (right) came from the Petrie Terrace Brisbane Police Depot - the smaller Silky Oak (left) is from the Morven Police station, 665km NW of Brisbane, and gifted to the museum in 1986.
This Cedar clock came from the Petrie Terrace Brisbane Police Depot.
A smaller Silky Oak is from the Morven Police station, 665km NW of Brisbane, and gifted to the museum in 1986.
A coffee break at the Tiny Tree Cafe, Cavendish Road in Coorparoo where antiques and plants are sold has a large 70cm dial Herga fusee wall clock which once hung in the old Brisbane Law Courts in George Street.
The Brisbane Supreme Courts legal heritage collection has a Herga clock located in their library, level 12, George Street. Made of cedar, it survived the 1968 fire that had gutted most of the building. Rescued from a skip bin when the building was being demolished in 1976, it was donated to the Courts collection in 2018.