Queensland Association of Watch and Clock Collectors Inc.
Planning an outing? These Qld. locations based on driving times from Brisbane, have been catalogued into - Short, Full Day and Definitely Overnight. Note - the most recent postings are highlighted in red.
Short Trip Locations (up to 2 hours/200km one way) - Toowoomba (5 clocks), Ipswich, Boonah, Southport TSS, Southport Memorial Clock, Nambour, Esk, Maleny, Kilcoy, Blackbutt, Palmwood, Murgon, Landsborough (Museum), Yandina (human sundial), Gatton. Warwick (Courthouse & Town Hall), Scots College Warwick
Full Day Trip Locations - (2 - 4 hours one way, suggest overnight) - Stanthorpe, Kingaroy, Wondai, Kandanga, Goomeri, Kingaroy (Museum), Maryborough (2 clocks), Gympie (2 clocks)
Definitely Overnight Locations (take a holiday - Fly!) - Bundaberg, Gin Gin, Gladstone, Mackay, Cairns, Rockhampton, Ayr, Goondiwindi.
Toowoomba with a population of 160,000 lies 125km West of Brisbane. This city is known for its beautiful gardens and the preservation of its Victorian buildings. Worth a trip.
1. The City Hall at 541 Ruthven St – The city's third Hall built in 1900 to a design won in a competition by W Powell, (one of 5 plans submitted), earned him 25 guineas. It housed Council offices, the School of Arts, a Technical College and a Public Hall. The original plan did not have a clock tower, just a spire, but during construction the Council decided the 2 level structure should have a 5-level clock and bell turret.
Made by Gillettt and Johnston of Croydon the clock with four 5ft dials one 7cwt hour bell and two quarter bells costing £278 arrived from England on the SS Devonshire in 1901. The total cost including installation was £400. The clock has a double three legged gravity escapement (an invention by Denison in 1851) used on Big Ben. Interestingly two of the original four pillars on the City Halls frontage were removed in the early 1940’s to form the gates of the City Showgrounds but returned when the Showgrounds closed in 1985. The clock is wound twice a week with three winders – one for the quarter bells, one for the hour bell and the clock itself. This video explains the workings of the clock. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ap_pPafivWM
2. The Old Post Office at 136 Margaret St. – a heritage listed Classic Revival style building made of yellow sandstone from Helidon. The building was completed around 1880 at a cost of £8,100. It has a 17meter high clock tower, the clock made by Gillett & Bland of England. Their name can be seen on the dial. The contract for fitting up the clock was awarded to Mr. Schoenle of Ipswich for a fee of £105. The clock was replaced with a Brisbane Synchronome movement in the 1950’s but is not working at present. This building is now home for a café and offices.
3. The Old Commonwealth Bank Clock Tower – a 3dial electric clock erected in the 1980’s and located on the corner of Ruthven and Russell St. The dial has red hands and red single dash numerals. The bank was recently closed and is now tenanted by a night club. The clock has not been working for a number of years.
4. Chronicle Footpath Clock – was presented to the city by the local Chronicle newspaper for its 125th anniversary in July 1986. This unusual 4m electric 4dial clock stands in Ruthven St at the entrance to Bell St Mall. It has a 60 second impulse movement.
5. The Toowoomba Railway Station – this stunning Victorian structure built in 1874 still has much of its original furniture. A working 60second impulse clock hangs at the main entry to the station platform.
The Ipswich GPO Clock Tower
30km SW of Brisbane is an impressive 32m Tower clock that has been an iconic landmark in Ipswich's CBD since 1901. Both clock and bell were made by Gillett and Johnston of Croydon in 1900 - one of the leading world tower clock makers and bell founders. The structure cost £9000 with the clocks cost at £425. It has four 2m diameter dials with a half-tonne bell striking only on the hour. The movement has a Dent three-legged gravity escapement. To wind the clock, one had to climb a set of 42 spiral steps twice a week.
In 1912 it was illuminated - much appreciated by the townsfolk.
In 2006 the manual wind-up was replaced by an electric motor.
Click on this impressive youtube video taking one through the tower -
Footnote - the location of the new Ipswich PO was very puzzling. Next door was the Council Town Hall built earlier in 1877 which already had a clock tower. Two public clocks side by side did not make sense. City workers complained that the clocks were out of time with each other. Looking at the picture from 1902 it is clear why the taller GPO tower was considered superior. The two-clock situation lasted only 11 years with the Ipswich Council in 1912 selling the clock (explaining the blank dials left - still evident today - and can be spotted in the above video). Eventually this clock ended up in the Council tower at Sandgate in 1923 (today the Library).
Boonah - The Blumbergville clock 68km SW of Brisbane.
This four tonne 5½ metre town clock was installed in 2014 and was given the original name of today’s Boonah. It combines art and horology in a novel way commemorating the town’s recovery from the serious floods of 2011 & 2013.
Creator Chris Trotter used recovered and donated farm equipment for this sculpture and David Bland, a member of our club, built the electrical clock. On the quarter hour it makes farm animal noises - a very unique and quirky clock.
The Southport School (TSS) has an impressive clock tower.
TSS an Anglican primary and secondary day and boarding school for boys, was established in 1901. Built in the Scottish Baronial style, the clock tower was a later design by architects Atkinson and Conrad opening in 1926. It was also used as an American army hospital during WW11.
The clock itself was built by Gillett & Johnston of Croydon, dated 1926, and is still hand wound. It has only 3 dials - the fourth side is clockless as it faced South onto then farmland and so was deemed unnecessary.
The clock strikes the Westminster chimes with four bells for the 15-minute chimes and one large bell for the hour. The clock room accessed by a steep ladder has been off-limits for over 50 years. But boarders who once lived in a dormitory beneath the tower have been up into this room as a dare and signatures of their visit can be seen. For more information and pictures of this clock go to the Gold Coast Bulletin web site here.
The Southport Memorial Street Clock.
On the intersection of Nerang and Scarborough Streets, Southport an unusual clock with lights can be found. It was built late 1990's as a memorial to the local men who fought and died during WW1 and WW2. This 4-dial clock in a square box made by a Melbourne firm, has a synchronous movement ticking over every minute. Above the clock are 5 Victorian styled streetlights – 4 round the outside & one higher globe in the centre.
Beside this clock is a stone memorial to Captain James Cook the voyage of discovery in 1768 – 1771. It was built by the Gold Coast Rotarians for the Bi-centennial year for peace in 1988.
At the Museum (on Bury St.), can be found the original Brisbane Synchronome clock that once hung on the Nambour Shire Council Chambers between 1953 and 1987. Rescued from the City Council Depot yard in 2018, the movement has been replaced with a continuous sweep electric motor.
At the main entrance (on Mitchell St.) a one dial clock was installed in 1999 for the 50th Anniversary of the Nambour Rotary Club. Its movement has the Klee Synchronome Brisbane logo. The museum is well worth a visit - note the hours are Wednesday to Saturday 1 - 4pm.
Regional SE Queensland Public Clocks.
1. Esk - a continuous sweep electric clock on the front of the Regional Somerset building.
2. Maleny - a synchronome double-sided street clock erected in 1998.
3. Kilcoy Memorial 4 dial, built in 1919, the original movement now a T Klee Synchronome Pty. Brisbane.
4. Blackbutt - a 4-dial built in 1988 with a movement by T Klee of Synchronome Brisbane.
5. Palmwood - a double-sided Brisbane Synchronome street clock.
6. Murgon - The art deco Public Hall now called the Murgon Civic Centre - built in 1938 and added to the Queensland Heritage Register in 2012.
A sundial donated by J & E Tytherleigh "the Palms" has the motto - "It is the hour to do a good deed".
This museum with over 14,000 exhibits is well worth a stop-over. Open 9.00 - 2.30 on a Wed. Thurs. Fri. & Sun. entry is free. As you walk through into the entry a working Ansonia greets you along with other clocks on the wall & a German Grandmother clock.
Yandina - https://yandinahistorichouse.com.au/
A great place for coffee along with a visit to the museum behind the Historic House. Some nice clocks here also. The interactive sundial outside allows you to become a gnomon! By standing on the correct month & raising your arm, the shadow points to the time. Also there is a Heritage trail to follow & the famous Ginger Factory.
This small rural town in the Lockyer Valley (population of 8,000) an hour drive from Brisbane (92km) is the home of an Agricultural University. On the side of the Gatton Civic Centre, built in 1957, is a 2dial electric tower clock. The tower stands at 17m. tall.
Warwick a small country town two hours drive from Brisbane has two historic public clocks.
1. The Court House Clock. Located at 88 Fitzroy Street, the Warwick Court House and police Complex was designed by John Clark (a famous Australian architect) and built in 1885 with several additions added later. The 4dial clock was supplied by Flavelle & Roberts of Sydney, Brisbane & London, (the clock maker for the Gympie Town Hall). Deemed to expensive to restore, the clock is presently not working.
This elegant sandstone Town Hall was built in 1887. For five years an affordable clock was sought by the ratepayers and when offered one by the Minister of Works, the Hon. H Tozer for £125 they quickly accepted. Initially bought from England it had been lying unused in the Colonial Architects Office. The clock had only three dials so a new dial and mechanism had to be made. Also required was the clock to strike meaning more work. A 3½cwt bell was sourced locally from St. Mary's Church. In 1892 the clock was up and running. The four dials were illuminated at night by eight gas jets fitted with reflectors. Total cost was £341, but within budget.
2. The Town Hall Clock Tower.
During the 1920's/30's the clock was wound by a young boy who one day fell off the staircase. A tale that at night loud bumps are reportedly heard - said to be the ghost of the boy! How to attract tourists!! In the 1990's the clock was converted to electric, managed by Synchronome Brisbane.
Scots PGC College – 60 Oxenham St. Warwick (158km SW of Brisbane).
Scots College was founded in 1919 a year after the Presbyterian Girls College was built. Both served the needs of this Scottish settlement. In 1970, the two colleges joined to become the Scots PGC College – a co-educational day and boarding school.
Scots College had a ‘battlement’ styled tower built but no clocks were put into the four .9m clock apertures. A belfry in front of this building was erected in 1936. Finally in 1951 the clock was installed. Costing £500 it was an electric Synchronome Brisbane master with a 30second impulse. Four slaves were added to the tower, linked to a large bell at the top of the tower. The Master hung downstairs, was connected to an automatic bell system used to signal class periods.
By 2005, this clock needed substantial repair work & two of our club members (Tony R & Norm H) undertook the restoration of the 4 slaves & the master. With all wiring renewed, parts replaced & cleaned, the clock was brought back to life powered by two 12volt batteries. The bell at the top of the tower & its mechanism was not reconnected to the clock as it had deteriorated beyond repair.
Worth mentioning is the stone Chapel built in 1875. This belonged to the Methodist Church in Warwick but when the area was to become a Shopping Centre it was relocated to the Scots College campus stone by stone in 1997.
Thanks Michelle C for organising this fascinating visit up the tower.
Full Day Trips
The Stanthorpe Post Office Clock Tower.
At Stanthorpe on the Scenic Rim (210km from Brisbane), you will find an elegant post-Federation building with a 4-storey tower. This is home to the towns PO. On it is a 4 dial clock, built in England by Gillett & Johnston of Croydon & installed in 1903. It has been manually wound every week till this year (Oct. 2022) when it was automated (said to be the last manual wind clock in Australia). Have you noticed that the dials have no Roman or Arabic numbers just ‘dashes’?
Kingaroy, Wondai, Kandanga, Gin Gin & Goomeri.
Now electric - T Klee (Synchronome Pty Ltd.)
Goomeri erected 1940. Heritage listed in 1992.
1. Kingaroy - built 1967 in memory of Archibald Blue to replace the demolished School of Arts clock.
2. Wondai - a four-sided Brisbane Synchronome clock found in Coronation Park, with repairs in 2020.
3. Kandanga - erected 2016 with the words "Lest we Forget" for numbers - has an electic single dial.
4. Goomeri - new in 1940 - 4 dial, 13m. memorial for the local soldiers killed during WW1. It has a dial with the ANZAC words "Lest We Forget" instead of numbers, read from 10am. WW11 names were later added.
All these clocks are maintained by Synchronome Pty Ltd having replaced the early Brisbane Synchronome with modern electronic impulse clocks - many solar powered with GPS systems for accurate time.
Kingaroy original School of Arts Clock (Arts & Heritage Museum 128 Haly St.)
In this museum, the movement of the original Archibald Blue Memorial 1918 electro-mechanical clock that was in the School of Arts can be found. Made by Prouds of Sydney. It had three 4ft cast iron dials glazed with white glass, costing £200. One of these dials is now concreted into the walkway of the museum.
1. Maryborough City Hall Clock Tower - this building was originally named the Town Hall. Built from 1906 – 1908 at a cost of £9,000, it did not have a clock tower, until 1935 when a Synchronome electric clock with 7ft. skeleton dials was supplied & made by Jackson of Brisbane. The 5 bells came from a foundry in England (John Taylor & Co.). In 1960 the chimes were regulated to sound only between 7am & 7pm. In 1964 the name was changed to the City Hall. Major refurbishment was carried out in 2016.
The clocks in need of attention saw a team from our club (Tony, David & Jeff) spend many days getting the tower clock & the master ready to show correct time. This web site https://fclibrarieslocalstudies.blogspot.com/2018/09/maryborough-city-hall-clock-tower.html has some great information & a video on the actual clock. The master hangs in the Council room & in another meeting room is the Ben Mason clock (See ‘Did You Know’ for more information on this one).
City Hall Master
2. The Post Office 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.
Originally the PO tower was only one story. On top of this a time ball operated to 1872, but as it told the time only once a day a single-faced clock replaced it. People working in nearby fields could not see this clock so in 1879 the tower was raised one level for a new clock. The empty clock dials on the lower tower are still evident.
Gympie - has two impressive clock towers -
The Town Hall - Danny & I had the opportunity to climb both towers. Built in 1891, the tower clock was 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.
Overnight or Extended Trip
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.
New in 1971 - 4 dial, maintained by Synchronome Pty Ltd having replaced the early Brisbane Synchronome with modern electronic impulse clocks - many solar powered with GPS systems for accurate time.
This logo for Synchronome Pty Ltd of Father Time, appears on a host of regional clocks in Qld. Alfred Jackson the original owner had purchased rights to the Synchronome name from F Hope of London. Setting up in Brsbane from 1896 he installed the first Synchronome electric tower clock in the South Brisbane Town Hall. Tony Klee bought Synchronome off Jackson in 1991 & so could maintain all the Qld. clocks that the Jackson Bros. had installed.
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 Gillett & Bland 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.
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!
Public Clocks Found by Paul on his visit to Cairns & Ayr
This RSL memorial clock tower costing £2,074 (then the most expensive clock and statue in Qld.) was unveiled on ANZAC Day 1926, and doubled as Cairns' only public clock. Relocated in 1972 to the Esplanade, the clock faces were replaced with painted replicas each set at 4.28 for when the Anzacs landed at Gallipoli in 1915. The original clock had a 30 second impulse, powered by a battery master clock located at the Council Chambers. With the connection to mains power the clock had become inaccurate and by 1970 calls were made to remove it - hence the painted dials.
At the Port of Cairns, a clock tower was built in 1948 above the 1913 now heritage listed Number 3 shed. The new electric clock costing £900 first ran on a car battery and was built by A L Franklin of Sydney. It had 4 dials each 6 feet in diameter, a pendulum weighing 100lbs, 27 gear wheels and a 3 foot diameter bell connected to the mains weighing half a ton and struck by a 20pound hammer. In 2011 this terminal was upgraded to be used as both a cruise liner berth and a private and public convention centre for up to 600 people.
Centenary Park Kuranda where the Visitor Information Centre is located another clock was found on top of the public toilet block. It is a Simplex two dial with a 60 second impulse.
Inside the Cairns airport there were several Raymond Weil quartz clocks. These ‘affordable luxury’ Swiss timepieces are made by a Geneva firm founded in 1976.
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 has a pendulum about 5m long. It is one of the oldest in Queensland & was hand-wound every four days with two winding cranks - one for the bells and one for the clock. This ceased in mid2018. 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').
Rockhampton Heritage Village. Paul on his trip North found an impressive display of clocks here.
Ayr - 1287km North from Brisbane - snaps from Paul
Ayr is dominated by this elegant turret clock on Queen St. was unveiled in 1930 (with 4 marble tablets round it’s base) to honour John Drysdale - a local who helped set up a reliable fresh water supply for the areas sugar industry. Its cost to the town was £600 much coming from local donations. The 4dial clock was made in England (probably by Gillett & Johnston) and has a weathervane on top.
Goondiwindi Regional Civic Centre
This Art Deco heritage listed structure, built in 1937, designed by Addison & MacDonald. The Qld Govt. loaned the initial £15,000 which was paid off by the Council in 1953. It has had many roles - first a Council Chamber, then a Town Hall, then a theatre (1950-78) & today a Civic Centre. In 2015 the centre was opened after a $5mill. redevelopment.
The clock tower has been painted green, brown & white with the 4dial electric clock having black strips for each hour. The tower is topped by a brick pyramid & a wind vane.