Discovering Public Clocks in Regional SEQueensland – Part 2.
Day 2 - Returning to Brisbane via Maryborough, Gympie and Nambour.
Maryborough has two public clocks. The City Hall built in 1908 has a fully restored Brisbane Synchronome master clock with a 4-dial clock tower.
The Post Office originally had a 3dial Gillett and Bland mechanical clock installed in 1879. It was removed in 1935 and put into the nearby Gladstone Post Office. The tower was clockless to 1986 when Brisbane Synchronome was requested to install a tower clock. Today Synchronome Pty has replaced this with a modern electronic master.
Gympie the next city had two impressive public clocks. We had the experience of climbing both towers. The Town Hall, built in 1891, had a clock made by Flavelle, Roberts & Sankey of Brisbane and London. This mechanical clock needed to be wound every 5 days. In the last 20 years it has been replaced with a Synchronome Pty Ltd. clock – the original movement remaining in the tower.
The Gympie Court House built in 1901/02 had a Brisbane Synchronome clock installed. This clock has also been retired with a replacement Synchronome Pty Ltd. electronic Swiss Mobatime master.
Finally. at our last stop at Nambour, we visited the Museum where the original Brisbane Synchronome clock that once hung on the Nambour Shire Council Chambers between 1953 and 1987 is now displayed. It was rescued from the City Council Depot in 2018. The movement has been replaced with a continuous sweep electric motor.
Discovering Public Clocks in Regional SEQueensland – Part 1.
During July 2020 along with a fellow club member I took the opportunity to check out the Public Clocks that could be found on a two-day trip from Brisbane to Bundaberg and back.
Day 1 – Kilcoy Memorial built in 1919, Blackbutt in 1988, Kingaroy in 1967, Goomeri 1940, Gin Gin 1971 and Bundaberg 1891. These structures (not Bundaberg's) when built had a 4 dial clock made by Synchronome Electrical of Brisbane. Today they are maintained by Synchronome Pty Ltd. – having replaced the movements with modern electronic impulse clocks. Some are solar powered and all have a GPS system for accuracy.
The memorial clock at Goomeri was most interesting. Erected for the local soldiers killed during WW1 and WW2. it has an unusual dial with the ANZAC words “Lest We Forget” instead of numbers.
Bundaberg Post Office - Commonwealth Heritage Listed in 2011.
This magnificent Post Office was constructed in 1890/91. The 2-storey building has a 6-storey (18m) clock tower and cost £4,398 to build. The four 1.8m diameter dial with Arabic numerals mechanical clock was manufactured by Flavelle Bros of Brisbane.
Sometime after 1920 a new dial with Roman numerals appeared drawing criticism from residents who felt from a distance the crossbars could not be distinguished from the hands. In 1965 the clock was replaced with a Brisbane Synchronome Master.
Today the clock is serviced by Synchronome Pty. Ltd. with an upgraded electronic master system.
Mackay Clock Tower
Another example of a combined Telegraph and Postal Office built between 1883-1884 with open verandas and a central three-dial clock tower. The lower level housed the Post and Telegraph services, the upper level the master residences. This was a grand building for a small town of 2,300 in 1883.
In 1938 it was extensively remodelled in art deco style leaving only glimpses of the old exterior. A picture near the entry door shows these alterations. The charming old timber and masonry clock tower was replaced with a brick tower. New electric clocks were installed with simple dials of white or black hands and dashes for numbers. In 1995 the PO moved out and the building became a telephone exchange for Telstra.
Worth mentioning is the former Mackay Town Hall - put on the Queensland Heritage Register in 1998. Built in 1912 with a tower designed specifically for a clock, the four openings have remained empty to this day except for the circular glass windows. Nonetheless a superb structure just awaiting a clock to fully complement it!
Rockhampton's old Post and Telegraph Office Clock Tower.
This impressive two-storey brick structure with a sandstone façade, was built in 1892 at a cost of £14,368. It was divided in the middle by a carriage way and clock tower with the Post Office on the left and the Telegraph Department on the right. Services occurred on the ground floor and accommodation for management was on the first floor. In 1963 the carriage way was infilled with a staircase and in 1997 the building ceased to function as Rockhampton’s main Post Office. For the next 10 years it was unoccupied but rescued from demolition when the State heritage listed it in 2003. In 2008 it was sold and today occupied by several commercial tenants including a restaurant and café.
The 4-dial clock costing £325, made by Gillet and Johnston of Croydon England is one of the oldest in Queensland. Still hand-wound every four days, it has two winding cranks - one for the bells and one for the clock. The pendulum is about 5m long. The clock has a distinctive sandstone moulding as its ‘bezel’. Written above the dial are the words - ANNO 1890 DOMINI ('in the year of our Lord 1890') and below the dial the words - TEMPVS FVGIT CITO PEDE ('Time flies on winged feet').
Clocks at the Canterbury Museum Christchurch N.Z.
For horologists, museums offer some incredible treasures. The Canterbury Museum is no exception. On entering, one walks a replica street scene of Christchurch retailers from the late 1800’s. The jeweller’s shop, G Coates & Co. has a superb display of clocks and pocket watches.
Giles Coates had been well trained by his father (also Giles), a reputed clockmaker from Chedworth in Gloucester England. In 1850 Giles aged 43 emigrated to NZ and set up a shop in Bridge Street Nelson. Moving to Christchurch in 1857 he opened a jeweller’s shop at 218 Colombo Street – the museum shop frontage a copy of this original building. Besides clocks and watches, Giles also sold surveying and draughting equipment, optical and silver goods, barometers and precious stones.
A wide range of clock and watch types are featured in the window. From an impressive barometer clock with four sub-dials to cover days, weeks, months and the time to skeleton, wall, mantle and calendar clocks, this is a wonderful display. I have room for only a few.
What makes this shop special is to find displayed a link to the owner - a quality 2m tall regulator made by Giles Coates of London (probably Giles senior).
English Clock Systems Ltd.
A snap dated 1950 of the ECS Showroom
This company started in 1936 as Synchro Time Systems Ltd. installing and maintaining public clocks. In 1939 they became English Clock Systems Ltd, the Industrial branch of Smiths English Clocks Ltd. manufacturing a complete range of timekeeping equipment essential for office and factory. In 1948 their Head Office and Showrooms at Speedometer House, 179 Great Portland Street, London opened.
Whilst holidaying in NZ, I came across two ECS Ltd. public clocks that bear a striking resemblance to the two hanging from the ceiling shown in the 1950 Ad. The first was a square double-sided synchronous ECS wall clock on the 1923 Bradford House building in Motueka. It was operated by a recently acquired electronic Gents Master clock.
The other found at Culverdon near Christchurch was a round ECS double-sided public clock hanging on the front of the now vacant 1929 Amuri Council building. The clock has not run for years and there is no record of the whereabouts or maker of the master.
Motueka NZ - The Rothmans Clock Tower, Motueka's Most Recognisable Landmark.
Motueka a town of 7000 people at the Northern end of the South Island of NZ is a place for seasonal workers picking apples and kiwifruit and for tourists with its beautiful beaches and National Parks. At the entry to this township is an eye-catching structure – the bright blue Rothmans Tower. Recently restored to operating order, it features a 4-dial Gent’s synchronous clock.
Harking back to the 1930’s/40’s, Motueka had a thriving tobacco industry. In 1950 the owner of the main tobacco factory Gerhard Husheer gifted to the town this clock tower. In 1955 Rothmans bought his factory and added their name to the tower. When the industry closed in 1995 as the demand for tobacco had declined, the clock tower was left to deteriorate.
Then in June 2010 this clock tower, considered by many an eye-sore, was to be bulldozed. On demolition day a Clock Tower Trust stepped in and agreed to pay $150,000 for the small parcel of land with tower. Restoration followed included painting the tower in the old Rothmans blue colour, stabilising the tower walls and wiring in a new electronic master from Germany. I was given the chance to climb this 12m tower.
Motueka unearths some more intriguing old clocks -
The main street features many old buildings. Westrupp Jewellers, who occupy Bedford House, feature a working double-sided square Smiths English Systems clock. These synchronous electric clocks were produced in Cricklewood, London from 1931 - 1955. Inside above the doorway was the master – a recently acquired Gents electronic unit from Europe.
On the Guthrie Bowron building, once the Post Office and Telephone Exchange, is a working double dial Gents Synchronous clock. The master inside was recently bought from Europe and unavailable for viewing. The original master for this clock I was told was a Gents pul-syn-etic. A signal from Wellington’s DSIR atomic clock was sent daily at 9am to the NZ Post Office network and then these Gents electric impulse clocks could re-set to the correct time.
Railway Station Tower Clock in Christchurch NZ - Preservation and Restoration - Keeping Alive the Past.
On a jeweller's shopfront in Nelson is a working double dial synchronous clock that was once hanging from the Christchurch Station's main platform.
Built in 1960 this Station lasted only 30 years as falling patronage made it uneconomic. Taken over in 1990 by Hoyts theatre and a Science Alive Interactive Museum, new life was breathed into it. In Sept. 2010 at 4.35pm a magnitude 7.1 earthquake stopped the 4 tower clocks. Cracks can be spotted in the brick work. Repairs to 3 of the clocks were made in November, but the 12.51 pm February 22 magnitude 6.3 quake in 2011 rendered the whole building unsafe. It was demolished in 2012.
Preservation of two of these dials has occurred at Quake City – an interactive museum built in 2017 allowing people to see the impacts of the quakes. Two of the 2m dials can be found in the main office set to the exact time of each quake.
This Gents NZR ‘slave’ is typical of the many small impulse wall clocks once found in the rooms/offices of NZ railway stations.
The other two dials are now featured at Riverside Markets built in 2019. Here they have been restored to a working condition, one on the outside and one inside. Both have had new synchronous movements added.
Rome – another rewarding place for horological spotters.
The Palace Senatorio has an impressive clock tower, being the backdrop to the Piazza del Campidoglio – a grand civic plaza created by Michelango between 1536 – 1546. This was a highly complicated design to re-establish the grandeur of Rome and not completed to the 17thC. The 124 steps leading to this Piazza are marble with the statues of Pollux and Castor at the top. Few realise that the clock in the tower was relocated from the nearby church S. Maria in Aracoeli in 1806 – one can still see the aperture.
The Parma Planisphere Clock can be found in the Vatican Museum. It was commissioned in 1725 by the Duchess of Parma to be both unique and complex. It could give the astronomical minutes, hours, sunrise, sunset, solar and lunar eclipses and more for 24 locations – the most complicated clock at the time. In 1902 Pope Leo had it restored by Hausmann & Co. It took three years to complete and a team of 30 technicians to repair it. Many thanks to Christina for all the European clock snaps to follow.
Pompei, not only famous for its location at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius that buried it in the 79 A.D. eruption, but also for the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary attracting over 4 million Catholic pilgrims a year. The original building constructed between 1876 and 1891 has had further alterations e.g. in 1901 a 3.2m statue of Mary was added. The symmetrical facade includes a clock to the left and on the right a sun dial. Standing beside this basilica is an impressive 82m bell tower which can be climbed giving great views of Vesuvius.
Another interesting find was at the amphitheatre where a gallery celebrates the Pink Floyd 1971 concert “Live at Pompei”. On entry a poster with a Jaeger pocket watch is displayed. Appropriate to this page, one could interpret this as that these ruins are like a snapshot of Roman life frozen in time.
Florence in Italy.
The Piazza del Duomo located in the historic centre of Florence is one of the most visited places in Europe. One of the world’s oldest functional mechanical clocks is found here at the cathedral - the Church of Santa Maria del Fiore It is located above the main entrance. This timepiece is also a work of art because the dial is a fresco painted by the Renaissance artist Paolo Uccello.
The original clock mechanism was designed in 1443 by Florentine watch maker Angelo di Niccolò. Although it has had many restorations, the clock retains its original features – a beautiful dial and a mechanism with one hand that measures time from sunset to sunset.
This is known as the Italic hour system and works in a counter - clockwise motion where the 24th hour is the hour of the setting sun. Consequently each of the 24 hour Roman numerals are painted counter-clockwise. The centre of the clock has a golden star with the main hand being the longest ‘ray’ with a ball on its tip.
Palazzo Vecchio’s Arnolfo Clock Tower. Designed by Torre Arnolfo, this tower was built in 1353 in the form of a castle, and replaced in 1667 with a replica. It features a one-handed clock with a bell chamber and weather vane on top of the 95m tower. The clock built by Niccolo di Bernado, a watch maker living nearby, was Florence’s first public clock.
Over the years many repairs have been carried out. In 1667 it was replaced with a clock built by George Lederle di Augusta. He was ordered by Duke Ferdinand to add an escapement and a long pendulum after the designs of Galileo to enable more precise regulation. In 1990 the movements hand became digitally regulated and was reconnected to the bells to ring only at noon. The last restoration in 2018 cost 125,000 Euros.
The clock dial at 2m. has Roman numeral hours with the shorter hand end acting as a counter weight. The time is read from the position of the long hand. Tourists can climb to the top to see this clock but only if you can cope with the 233 steps!
Vienna - Horologists here can savour over 80 operating tower clocks plus many others. Four examples follow.
Saint Michael’s Church had its beginnings in the 13thC, modified several times but unchanged since 1792. Of interest to tourists are the catacombs where some 4000 people are buried.
Its tall, narrow polygonal Gothic bell tower sited to the right side has a 4 Dial clock with moon shaped gold hand ends. Another clock sits centrally above the main entrance with a gold cross on top.
The Votivkirche Church has its origins commemorating the failed assassination on Emperor Franz Joseph in 1853. It took from 1855 to 1879 to build and is modelled on the style of French Gothic structures. The twin towers of this magnificent building at 99m have clocks on all four sides. The hands and Roman numerals are in gold – a contrast to the rather stark exterior.
The Ankeruhr Clock - a modern 4 m. diameter clock created by Franz Marawetz in 1915. This clock forms a bridge between the two parts of the Anker Insurance building. Large crowds gather at 12 noon to see an amazing parade of 12 famous historical figures accompanied by music. It has Arabic minutes on a fixed horizontal scale with a Roman hour pointer.
The reverse side has a rather plain clock with Arabic numbers set in circles. Der Anker is written above the dial and MCMXIV (1914) below the clock.
Finally, a superb musical clock with an organ melody. Made in 1796 by Johann Wiest, it has 23 notes and can play 8 melodies – 7 from Haydn and 1 from Mozart – the KV 616 Andante for a cylinder in a small organ - the only one on a cylinder existing. This clock can be found in the apartment Mozart lived in – today a museum. It is thought he composed the music for this very clock.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands - and the Rijksmuseum – a selection of fine Dutch clockmaking.
The Royal Palace - built in 1655 as a town hall. It was transformed into a spectacular imperial palace in 1806 for Napoleon Bonaparte’s brother. In 1813, William 1 ousted this puppet ruler and became the first Dutch king. A sandstone building with a domed cupola this clock is fitted out with gold hands and numerals topped by a weather vane in the form of an early cog ship. The impressive panel below the clock has unicorns with gold horns.
Near the Palace can be found the New Church (Nieuwe Kerk). Built to replace the Old Church between 1380 and 1408, it is now used for art exhibitions and organ recitals. In the roof gable of this building is a fine example of a gold sundial with a gold gnomon. Significantly, it set the time for all the city clocks right up to 1890.
The Munttoren or Munt. Originally a tower for the main gate to the city, it was burnt down in 1618. Rebuilt in 1620, with an eight-sided top half and an elegant open spire it features four clock faces and a carillon of bells. The name of the tower refers to the guard house at the side used to mint coins in the 17th Century.
At the Rijksmuseum the national museum of Holland, a remarkable display of clocks can be found. Only a few regrettably can be shown on Snapshots.
1. & 2. - Table Clocks
3. Clock & Gunpowder Horn
4. Longcase Clock
1. Jan van Coulen C1700 - 1725 shows time, date & phases of the moon & sun. Also has 9 bells to play 10 melodies.
4. Steven Huygens C1690 - 1695.
3. This was in the 'Save House' left there by Barentsz & Van Heemskerck in 1596. It provided time during the long Polar nights. It was only discovered in 1896.
2. N Weylandt C1730 - 1750 - plays several melodies.
The Louvre Museum and Palace of Versailles - Paris.
Two great venues to find a wonderful variety of very old clocks. Here is a taste.
Longcase clock by Lieutaud of Paris 1760/65
‘Creation of the World’ Paris 1754.
LeRoy Paris 1741
Louis Montjoye Paris 1782.
Palace of Versailles
18th-century clock hangs over the fireplace in the Queen's bedchamber
Martinot clock for Louis XIV in 1754
Two surprizing clocks in Paris
The St. Vincent de Paul Church with twin bell towers.
This beautifully adorned church was built during 1824 to 1844 on the site where Vincent de Paul the 16th Century Catholic saint had lived and worked. Here the St. Vincent Society was formed in 1833 to help people in poverty resulting from the 1830 French Revolution.
A close-up inspection of the Church bell towers unexpectedly reveals a calendar clock occupying the left tower and a 12-hour Roman numeral clock in the tower to the right.
The Church of Saint-Roch – a museum of religious art.
This church, one of the largest in Paris, was built between 1653 and 1740. It is 125m long and 35m wide, containing priceless art works, frescoes, marble and gold decorations and a magnificent organ. The tower has an eye-catching blue dialled clock. A close-up reveals the name Lepaute 1835.
Inside above the organ there is a clock with the name 'Lapaute'.
The House of Lepaute became a highly sought-after clock making firm. It was founded in 1748 by two brothers, Jean-Andrew and Jean-Baptiste. Several generations continued this trade and the clock was probably built by Jean -Joseph Lepaute (1768 – 1846).
Grace Bros Broadway in Sydney with Clock Towers. Thanks to Christina for providing these pictures.
Two English brothers, Joseph and Albert Grace migrated from England to Sydney in 1883. They soon began to build what was to become a highly successful Australian Company. After setting up several small retail businesses, they erected a new five-storey building with a clock tower and on top a glass and steel globe bearing the company name.
In 1926 another building with a duplicate clock tower was added. These stores were vacated in 1992, restored, and now are used for a retail and cinema complex and for student accommodation. Visible from most parts of Sydney, these globes became famous for promoting the Grace name.
They were 4.2m in diameter, made of opal glass and supported by bronze griffens - illuminated at night by the firms privately owned and operated electricity plant. This power source also operated the large clocks. Originally the globes were filled with water to drive the hydraulic lifts. The current globes without the Grace name replaced the original ones in 1998.
Gladstone Post Office and Clock Tower
The first PO in Gladstone was erected in 1854. A new building with a clock tower was built in the 1870’s. By the late 1920’s this building had become very shabby and too expensive to repair, so in 1932 a new PO was built. It was one of only seven “twin porch” masonry PO’s built in Queensland and the only one with a clock tower. Costing £5,400, it was designed by the Federal Director-General of Works in Canberra under the works creation scheme, intended for the relief of the local unemployed.
The four-dial clock mechanism was obtained from Maryborough and after an extensive overhaul was fitted into the tower. Officially opened in July 1932, the Gladstone Town Council agreed to illuminate the dials each night to midnight. This PO survived to 1997 when it was sold to a private enterprise. It was put on Queensland’s Heritage Register in 1998. Thanks to Paul for these pictures.
The Lyttelton Time Ball in N.Z.
The very first Time Ball was erected in England in 1829 at Portsmouth. Greenwich was next in 1833. A time ball station consisted of a tower containing a regulator clock with a ball at the top that was dropped at 1pm. Ships anchored in the port used this to regulate their ships chronometer so ensuring accurate navigation.
Lyttelton, the port for Christchurch, nestling in an extinct volcanic crater, was a key launching point for Antarctic expeditions. The time ball built here in 1876, operated to 1934, and then lay disused to 1983 when a ten year restoration project brought it back to working order.
The original clock used at this station was made by E. Dent (of Big Ben fame). At 1pm the clocks electrical system triggered the dropping of the ball. This system was used to 1916 when the clock was retired and replaced by a telegraph signal from Wellington.
The ball and hoisting mechanism was made by Siemen Brothers of Germany. It was a 1½m hollow zinc sphere along with a hand wound rack and pinion mechanism to hoist the ball up a 3m wooden mast.
From 1993, the time ball was back in action and it became an on-site interactive museum attracting many tourists. Visitors could stand very close to the ball to watch it fall. Sadly, in 2010/11 nature intervened. A series of three major earthquakes reduced it to rubble.
In 2017 work began to rebuild this station – total cost a tad over NZ$3million. It was only the tower re-built using the original local scoria blocks. Digital scanning of the tower had been done before the total collapse and so an accurate reconstruction was possible. It is now run by a computerised system which releases the ball daily at 1pm. The new time ball station was officially opened in November 2018.
The Glen Innes Town Hall
Paul’s last stop was Glen Innes, a charming NSW country town 360km SW of Brisbane. It was the centre of a mining boom in the late 19th century based on nearby tin deposits. Today the main street has 30 heritage listed buildings including the Town Hall built in 1887 by a local – Henry Kendrick. His was the lowest of five tenders at £2975, but with plans altered during construction costing more, he went broke. He was finally paid £2761.
The clock is a real treasure. Made in England by the renowned Dent clockmaking company famous for London’s Big Ben, it was installed in 1890. Not surprisingly it has run without any major issues for over 120 years. In August this year (2019), the Council decided the mechanism needed its first complete overhaul. The two options were – to computerise it for $28,800 or retain it in original form at a cost of $49,650.
With history so valued here, it is not surprising the second option was voted for. Over 4 months, horologist Tim Tracey will remove the entire mechanism, fix the chimes, re-hang the bells, replace cables, and clean the mechanism. The clock will then need winding every 10 days and manually reset for daylight savings. The dial has two hairline cracks which hopefully will be repaired.
Inside the main office, Paul found this elegant Ansonia c1885 ‘Kobe’ model wall clock. The name on the dial reads E J Marcus, Glen Innes. Research reveals he was a local watchmaker and jeweller in the late 19thC. The clock has had the original decorated lower glass replaced with clear glass possibly to show off the pendulum. Thanks Paul for these worthy snaps.
The Echuca Post Office - Continuing Paul’s trip.
Now in Victoria, Paul visited Echuca, a town of 13000 on the Murray river. In the late 1800’s Echuca was a key inland river port and rail junction. Today, Echuca is famous for having the world’s largest fleet of operating paddle steamers.
Here another outstanding two-storey Post Office can be seen. Built in 1879 for £12,000, it has a 20.7m bell tower. The bell weighing about 250kg, was cast by Harwood’s at Echuca and was then the largest ever cast in the Colony. The four-dial clock was made by the Joseph Brothers in Melbourne. Again, this clock has needed attention over the years leading to its conversion to electric in the 1970’s. In 2000, the clocks dials were not in sync – the problem was found to be birds nesting on the clock hands!
In 2012 major work was carried out by Stephen Young with a new drive system powered by a 12-volt battery to ensure the clock continued during power stoppages. Also the time can be changed with a remote control and the bell is linked to the clock which now strikes the correct number on the hour (previously it struck 3 times every hour).
Australia Post sold the building in 2001. It is now luxury apartments with a café/restaurant. The clock still functions though it was not striking.
The Forbes Post Office.
Paul’s next stop was the historic town of Forbes just 32km from Parkes. Here he found quote, “one of the most attractive Post Office buildings I have ever seen” – also one of the few still owned and operated by Australia Post.
The town today has a population of just over 8500 – a far cry from the 30,000+ residents during the gold rush times of the 1860’s. This might explain the grandeur of the building, designed by James Barnet and built from 1879 to 1881 by P. Vaughan. It was added to the NSW Heritage Register in 2000 and to the Commonwealth Heritage Register in 2004. Interestingly J Barnet, the Colonial Architect, was responsible for building 169 Post and Telegraph Offices in NSW in a variety of architectural styles. This Post Office was featured on a stamp series in 1982 which depicted one PO from each State in Australia. It was also
portrayed as the “Parkes PO” in the
2000 movie “The Dish”.
This PO was costed at £3000, but after much debate it was decided to add the clock tower, so a further £1500 was needed. The tower has a French styled copper roof topped with a wrought iron weather vane. Housed within this is a white background 4 dial clock with a bell below striking on the hour. The clock mechanism was electrified in 1982 which eliminated the manual winding. As with most clocks of this age, maintenance and sourcing parts can be challenging. The latest repair job on the clock was in 2017 where a new controller was shipped from Belgium allowing the time to be set via a GPS remote. The article in the link below, “Clock rings out” has a video playing the striking bell at 9 o’clock.
The Precision Sundial at Parkes NSW.
At Parkes, just 40km East of Bogan Gate, is a rather complex sundial. Paul discovered this in the garden near the famous CSIRO Radio Telescope, ‘the Dish’ (which helped distribute TV images to the world of the moon landing in 1969).
Sundials are the oldest known devices used to measure time. There are many types – the most common being the vertical, equatorial and horizontal. The horizontal (often called garden sundial), has a flat plate or dial that has been marked with the hours of the day, and a gnomon or raised straight edge that casts a shadow onto the dial to read the time.
The Parkes horizontal sundial was designed to eliminate the errors found with most sundials (which can err as much as 16 mins) by using wavy time markers set at 10minute intervals for each month of the year. Astronomers call this “the Equation of Time”. Paul photographed this in August – so the time shown is 10.55am.
Bogan Gate War Memorial Clock Tower
Bogan Gate is a small NSW town 1000km SW of Brisbane with about 200 people. The origin of the towns name dates back to the 1880’s when it was the ‘gateway’ between two large sheep and cattle stations. The word ‘Bogan’ is derived from the Aboriginal word meaning the birthplace of a great leader from the local tribe.
Here Paul found in the middle of the main street a 6.6m. clock tower dedicated to the memory of those who served in WW1. Built in 1922, at a cost of £590, the sandstone tower with a lightning conductor on top, sits on a pedestal of granite. The 4-dial, 60cm diameter clocks were built by Synchronome Electrical Co. of Australasia Ltd. for an extra £150. They were originally controlled by a master in the Commercial Bank next door and Illuminated by a gas lamp. After installation, Prouds Ltd. of Sydney had to send a mechanic for £25/10/- to correct some early teething problems. Under each dial in order is written - The Great War, 1914-18, Liberty and Australia. Today the dials have had protective perspex covers added and a solar panel for lighting. Paul reports that though the clock was operational one dial was out of sync with the others.
The Edmunds Clock Tower in Christchurch NZ
This two-dial time only clock (the other two dials have sculptures) sits atop a 14m tower on the Avon river bank at Oxford Terrace. It was erected in 1929 with a donation of £5000 from Thomas Edmund of Edmunds baking powder fame to celebrate 50 years of business. The donated money went to the River Bank Improvement Scheme which built the clock tower, a telephone/drinking booth and a band rotunda. Halfway up the tower are the words peace, faith, hope and charity etched into the sandstone sides. It has had extensive restoration since the 2010/11 earthquakes.
St. Martins Parish Church, Epsom – has an imposing Clock tower.
Tony on his latest trip to the UK visited this Church in Epsom, 21km SW of London. The old tower added a Gillett and Johnson clock in 1875. It is a three-train weight driven chiming clock and is hand wound every Sunday morning by the bell ringers. The .7m diameter dial is painted black with white numbers and hands.
Tony points out that this Church is a great place to visit for either the service or the bell ringing and then pop into the stunning pub directly opposite!
The Carillon Clock in the British Museum (made in 1589).
Colin shared a great Power Point at our last meeting on his recent trip to England. His pick of clocks was Isaac Habrecht's carillon clock at the British museum - described as “the Rolls-Royce of clocks’. Modelled on Strasbourg’s cathedral clock it plays the music ‘Our Father’ written by Martin Luther, every hour. There are 4 levels of figures at the top and 3 dials below – a 24-hour dial, a quarter hour and minute dial and at the bottom an annual calendar dial. Thanks Colin. For more details about this clock go to:
For more details on clocks and horology in the British Museum, here are two good sites:
Colin’s Airport Pictures
Airports often display stylish, expensive timepieces. Colin took these snaps – Singapore Airport an Omega, Dubai Airport a Rolex and Tehran Airport a Rado - all Swiss luxury watch brand names.
Then this clever 'word find' style clock in a Dubai hotel room.
The Tenterfield Post Office Clock
Paul on his recent travels took these snaps of this beautiful two-storied Victorian Italianate Post Office building in Tenterfield, NSW, 275 km SW of Brisbane. Built in 1881/92 and designed by James Barnett it was heritage listed in 1999. Except for the bells the 4-dial clock with 1.2m diameter dials was built by R Smith of Oxford St. Sydney. The clock features a double three-legged gravity escapement (after Sir E. Beckett) with a 11 second beat - the maintaining power being identical with that of the great clock at Parliament Buildings, Westminster, London. The total cost was only £300 – that was £50 less than that of an imported one!
Smith’s work on clocks is worth mentioning as his projects were an outstanding achievement for the colony. He constructed turret clocks for 4 Post Offices - Tenterfield, Redfern, Ballina and Kempsey. Each clock weighed round 5cwt. with varied width dials (5 to 6 ft). The frame was of cast iron with steel pinions and arbours, the going train driven by a 3cwt weight, the striking train a 6cwt weight and a compensated pendulum weighing 3cwt. Only the 4cwt bells were imported. He also built a model of the Strasburg clock, a 2½ year job, on display today in Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum.
The Armidale Court House Clock in NSW
This elegant building boasts a 140 year old 4-dial clock. The Classical Revival styled structure has its origins in 1860 as a simple brick building. In 1870, architect J Barnett added wings, a portico and then in 1878 a bell tower with clock. In 1897 new alterations by W Vernon moved the portico forward and erected over it a new tower for the clock to be placed costing £140.
As with most of these early public clocks frequent complaints re accurate time keeping was always an issue. In 1917 the Council proposed plans for a new clock and tower to be erected as a WW1 soldiers memorial. In 1919 local jewellers Himmelboch Bros checked the clock out and diagnosed a badly worn escapement. Prouds from Sydney suggested a £50 solution - a synchronome clock with the master in the Council Chamber.
How-ever the clock had to wait to 1927 when J B Waterhouse a jeweller in Singleton 300 km away was given the job of full restoration (cost £21) after he had repaired a similar clock in Singleton built by Thwaites and Reed of London. Forward to 2018 - the Council planned to auction this historic building. But local anger over this decision cancelled the sale and in 2019 it was nominated for State Heritage listing. Today (June 2019) it stands unoccupied and fenced off. The clock and chimes still operate. Thanks to Paul for sending in these snaps.
Diamond Jubilee Clock Tower in Christchurch NZ – a Survivor.
This 30m structure made up of a combination of limestone and local volcanic stone features ornate wrought iron, coloured glass and a 4-dial clock. Skidmore and Sons of Coventry England built the iron work tower while John Moore and Sons of Clerkenwell London made the clock. It was shipped in 142 boxes in 1859 to Christchurch destined to sit on top of the Provincial Council buildings. The iron tower when assembled was found to be too heavy and so it was dismantled in 1864 and stored in sheds nearby and the clock put in another tower in Armagh Street where it could only be heard – not seen! The tower was reassembled in 1879 and it stood in the city Council yards for the next 18 years.
To commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee the clock was sent back to England to have chimes installed and on its return was reunited with the tower and both were erected on a stone base at the corner of Litchfield and Manchester Streets in 1897. Due to traffic congestion it was moved to the present site (corner of Victoria and Montreal Streets) in 1930. In 1977/78 the tower was cleaned and the clock given new chimes. In 2010/11 both the clock and tower required major repair and restoration after earthquake damage. In 2014 it was revealed in its original glory – a reminder of the incredible detailed workmanship put into early buildings - a true survivor.
Arts Centre Clock Tower Christchurch, N.Z.
It was a privilege to be allowed up this tower to view the clock - part of today's Art Centre, which covers a city block and was originally used by Christchurch University. Designed by architect Benjamin Mountfort and built of limestone and basalt from the Port Hills, the two dial clock tower has bells and an impressive entrance - a tiled floor with beautiful stained glass windows and a divided staircase. From here, through a locked door, one climbs up two flights of narrow wooden stairs to reach the clock. Made by Gillett & Bland of Croydon, England in 1877 (same firm as the Ipswich and Sandgate clocks) it has been repaired since the 2010/11 earth-quakes. A small electric motor has been installed to wind up the two weights every 4 hours.
The Nicholas Paris Clock
This clock can be seen in St. Mary's Church, England. Made in the 1690's by Paris at a cost of £50 and maintained by him to 1705 and then by his son for the next 30 years, it survived to 1903 when it was replaced and stored in the Tower basement. Some parts have been lost, some repaired and these pictures show what is now on display. Thanks to Jo for supplying these photos from her recent trip to England.
The Stanthorpe Post Office and Warwick Town Hall Clock Towers.
On a recent drive to the Scenic Rim I passed through Stanthorpe (210km from Brisbane). Here you will find an elegant post-Federation building with a 4-storey tower. On it is a 4 dial clock built in England & installed in 1903. This is home to the towns Post Office. Have you noticed that the dials have no Roman or Arabic numbers just ‘dashes’?
Half an hour drive away is Warwick’s Town Hall built in 1887. Ratepayers decided a clock would enhance this sandstone building - one was installed in 1892. The bell was sourced locally from St. Mary’s Church. Initially this clock was wound by a young boy who one day fell off the staircase. At night loud bumps are reportedly heard - said to be the ghost of this boy! How to attract tourists!!
Rockhampton Heritage Village. Paul on his trip North found an impressive display of clocks here.
War Memorial Clock Tower Blenheim NZ
This tower clock located in Blenheim NZ, was constructed in 1928 as a memorial to 419 locals who died in the First World War. The clock was made in Wellington and the 5 bell set was cast in England. It is 16m tall and constructed of stone sourced locally. However interestingly the outer dial and the tower dome is made from Australian sandstone which symbolised Australian and NZ co-operation during the war. 'Lest We Forget".
This is Trevor's hometown and he travelled there for his Mother's 100th. birthday in April 2018.