Two surprizing clocks in Paris – continuing Christina's travels.

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.

‚ÄčA 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.

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.

Above the organ there is also 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).

The Church of Saint-Rocha museum of religious art.

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. 

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.

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.

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.

The Blumbergville clock at Boonah 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! The club visited this ‘steampunk’ creation in 2015 and we all agreed this was a very unique and quirky clock.

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.

Alarm clocks were also popular. Notable is a French Bayard 'nodding head' Mickey (right).

This Disney character has had a massive influence on horology. Millions of clocks and watches both manual & quartz have been made. In fact the sale of 2.5 million Mickey watches between 1933 and 1935 stopped Ingersolll Watch Co. (owned by Waterbury) from going bankrupt.

The sale of Mickey Mouse watches debuted at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933 with the balloon trousers pocket watch and a year later the wrist version. In 1934 England started with a slightly different design (RH pic.) Both had a seconds disc - the Americans with running legs, the English with walking legs. The latter also added the Pink bearded Mickey in 1936.

Ingersoll stopped production in 1950 and was replaced by US Time/Timex

to 1972 and then Bradley took over from 1972 to 1985. Other makers for the Disney licence were Helbros, Phinney Walker, Hamilton & Elgin.

From the 1980's, Disney mechanical watches were replaced by quartz - a large number being made by Lorus.

Mickey Mouse Turns 90 (Nov 18th 2018)
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.