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Public clocks in Tasmania, NSW & Victoria - click on any underlined headingLatest posts in red.



Port Arthur - the Lunatic or Asylum Building with a Clock Tower


At Port Arthur, a notorious 19th-century penal settlement, 90km from Hobart, now an open-air museum, can be found the Lunatic or Asylum building with a clock tower. This was the last structure to be built here 1864-68, its purpose - to separate the mentally unstable inmates & provide them with a ‘soothing’ atmosphere away from the brutal treatment meted out to the convicts.


The penal settlement was closed in 1877 & in 1895 was ravaged by bush fire. The Asylum & tower were rebuilt & handed to the local council in 1899 to be used as a Town Hall (later a schoolhouse & today a museum & café). The 1dial clock seen in this tower

was saved from the fires – it had been in the nearby penitentiary (the main prison structure built in 1842).


The remains of the Penitentiary

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Inside can be found a very interesting clock, a Tell Tale or Peg clock. Made in 1817 by Fairer of Bishopsgate London it was used by the warders at the Penitentiary to ‘peg’ the time of their nightly rounds. The warder at stated times would pull a cord on the clocks side which depressed the pegs (round the outside of the chapter ring). The face revolves to tell the time. As the clock was locked it gave an exact record of the warder’s movements. A Grandfather calendar clock with the name Gavin Spence of Perth is also on display.


Campbell Town - the Town Hall Tower Clock & the Howard clock for the Transit of Venus 1874.

Campbell Town lies 132km to the North of Hobart. The Town Hall (75-77 High St.), currently used as a museum & visitor center, was built during 1938 - 1939. During construction the plans were altered early 1939 with the death of a respected local medical worker, Dr. Tofft, to allow a tower with a 3dial electric clock to be added in his name. The cost of £250 was met by public subscription.

Inside in the Museum, is a remarkable find, a E Howard & Co. of Boston regulator or astronomical clock. These could carry out tasks where accuracy was crucial. Moon dials, calendars & a striking mechanism were considered non-essentials, so regulators show only dials for hours, minutes & seconds & use a mercury pendulum.


This clock was ordered by the US Naval Observatory for the 1876 Transit of Venus conducted in eight Southern Hemisphere locations. One of these sites was here at the Grange, Campbell Town. It was used to calculate the exact latitude & longitude of this site.

At the Grange one can also find an unusual & fun concept sundial made in 2004 from agricultural machinery to commemorate the 1876 transit event. Sitting on a tractor seat allows you to turn a wheel to line up the sun to shine through a small hole on the plough disc. The sun shines onto a line of dots, allowing you to read the time on the scale.

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Hobart's General Post Office

Hobart's sandstone GPO rising 35m., was built between 1901 & 1905. The Tasmanian Government had paid nearly £35,000 for its construction, with the tower, clock & bell to add a further £1,465. This saw the Federal Government taking control & refusing to fund the “unnecessary” addition. But people power saw the money raised by public subscription & the tower was built in 1906 ready for the clock & bells.


The clock made by Fritz Ziegeler of Melbourne has three-trains & was manually wound up to the mid 1950’s when an electric automatic winding system was installed. It is fitted with a Denison double three-legged gravity escapement with jewelled pallets. The dials are 2.1m in diameter with the clock striking hourly & every quarter.


The bells were made by John Taylor & Co in Loughborough, England & shipped over in the steamer IONIC. Their combined weight – a hefty 2¼ tons! They have Westminster chimes.

T&G Cat&F

T & G Building Hobart

The Cat & Fiddle Clock

T & G (Temperance and General Mutual Provident Society) buildings can be found in Australian & NZ cities.

Twenty of these pre-war art-deco structures were built with a tall, stepped topped tower & the distinctive letters T&G on the top, many with a clock.  

The Cat & Fiddle Arcade 51 Murray St. (deriving its name from the Cat & Fiddle Inn that stood here from 1817) has a unique clock made in 1962. Located in the arcades center, it is made from wood & metal hanging on a stone wall.

What makes it special is that it is an animated clock that plays the kids nursery rhyme “Hey diddle diddle”. This melody is played on the hour from 8am to 11pm. by a glockenspiel & vibraphone recorded in Melbourne. The fiddle is played, the cow jumps over the moon & the dish runs away with the spoon. The electric clock has a 60s. impulse movement.

Hobart’s T&G on the corner of Collins & Murray Street has a six-storey rendered brick façade base with a slim tower, stepped top & a 4dial electric clock – height approximately 30m. with a flagpole on top. It was built in 1938.

Mayfair Floral

Mayfair Shopping & Accommodation Complex

Hobart’s Floral Clock in the Botanical Gardens


Mayfair Center


Established in 1818 this 14-hectare site at the Queen’s Domain is Australia’s second oldest Botanic Gardens. Here is found a floral clock built by cadets at the Science Centre of the Education Department installed in Dec. 1968 to mark the 150th. anniversary of the garden.

The Mayfair Center at 236 Sandy Bay Rd. Sandy Bay. The center dates to 1987 & has had several makeovers since. The brick tower with a 3dial electric clock makes a fine entrance statement.


Launceston's Post Office Clock & Tower - heritage-listed in 2004.

Launceston PO, (an ornate red brick structure standing 30m.) taking 5 years to build & was opened in 1891 with no tower or clock – a concern for Launceston residents who only had the St. Johns church Thwaites & Reed clock built in 1835. Several offers (from 1879) of Port Arthurs church clock had been rejected by the Council because it did not have 4 dials, nor did it chime.

The new tower, finally built in 1903, was still clockless after the Federal Government declined any monetary help (as with Hobart's PO). The tower was also disliked & ridiculed – nick-named ‘the pepper pot’. A decision was made in 1908 to raise it by 5m & install a clock & belfry capped by a cupola. £1339 was raised for the funding & installation of a clock with 5 bells.


These were made by Gillett & Johnston of Croydon England. Arriving at Hobart on the Corinthic in August 1909, then sent by train to Launceston & installed in 1910. The clock had a double three-legged gravity escapement like Big Ben’s with four, 2.6m dials - the hour hand was 1.2m & the pendulum 4.3m long. Driven by weights that were manually wound until 1969 when it became electrical. 


The Pepper Pot


Finally, in 1910, after over 30 years of politics the residents had a tower clock they could be proud of.

StJ NewTown

St. John’s Anglican Church 14 St. John’s Ave. New Town, Hobart.

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This Gothic styled church with a battlement was built by convicts in 1835 with walls of hand-made bricks, the tower of hand-hewn stone & local timber for the beams. The congregation was very mixed with the gentry (renting pews in the Churches center), the South end gallery was for convicts (backless seats) & under this was for free settlers.

The Church purchased a clock made by one of the world’s best Turret clock makers, Thwaites & Reed, a popular choice for many Australian clocks. It had been made earlier in 1818. The clocks bell was gifted to the Church in 1834 from King William IV. This bell was melted down in 1916 (safety reasons) & formed into commemorative coins. A replacement bell was installed in 1929.

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StL Richmond

St. Luke’s Anglican Church, Richmond, Hobart.


The tower clock found here was originally installed at another church - St. David's in 1825. Made by Thwaites & Reed of London in 1821 - one of the oldest turret clock companies in the world, it was Hobarts first public clock. Its task was to manage the hours & habits of Hobart’s residents & was so successful more public clocks were demanded.


Another clock in the 1830's was added to St. David’s & one put into nearby St. Andrew’s Presbyterian. Then in 1855, St. David's had the first installed clock removed & put into the newly built Government House. In 1874 St. David’s was demolished & the remaining Thwaites clock put into storage. In 1922 it was ‘recovered’ & found its way to a new home at St. Luke’s, Richmond where it resides today.

St T Avova

St Thomas War Memorial Clock, Avoca (170km Nth of Hobart).


This Church was built in 1841, but it took 98 years for a clock to be placed in the tower (1939). The £100 raised by the locals (whom had long been agitating for a WW1 war memorial) meant this church now looked complete.

The synchronous illuminated clock running on a dry cell with a 1.2m diameter dial was made by Prouds of Sydney. It was the second version as the original was destroyed in a fire at Proud’s factory.


Ulverstone War Memorial Clock Tower

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Ulverstone, 295km North of Hobart, has an unusual, unique 24m high, WW11 war memorial clock tower. Hand built in 5 months by 12 Slovenian post war migrants in 1953, it sits on a map of Tasmania with 3 pillars 17m high linked by chains representing the army, navy & airforce.

In the middle on a red slab, is placed the WW1 cenotaph which had been at this site from 1924. The structure is capped by a night-lit representation of the eternal flame. Total cost £5831. This electric clock has four 2m wide dials with chimes.

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GT Aus

The 'Great Australian' Clock - Queen Victoria Building Sydney

There are 2 amazing clocks in this heritage listed building (erected 1893-1898). The Northern end has the world's largest hanging turret clock, a 4year task for Chris Cook of Sydney before installation in 2000.

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This fascinating electrical clock with a 60sec. impulse, weighs 4 tonnes & is 10m tall. There are 32 small clocks showing the times for world cities, 138 hand-carved figures, 33 picture scenes telling the story of Australia from both Aboriginal & European perspective. An Aboriginal hunter circles the top, while a sailing ship circles beneath. It is set up as a easy-to-read calendar clock with the dome & numerals coated in 24carat gold - not a cheap clock costing $1.5million!

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The 'Royal' Clock - Queen Victoria Building, Sydney


Only 50m away at the Southern end of this stunning building hangs a Thwaites & Reed of England clock installed in 1898. It is electric with a 60second impulse. Above the clock is a castle-like structure. The display is announced with trumpeters rising from each turret playing Jeremiah Clarke's trumpet voluntary.

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Then the show begins with 6 scenes from English royal history, each rotating past a window on 2 sides of the castle. These 6 scenes have hand-painted clay figures (took 3 years to create) that were sent to Thwaites & Reed to be mechanised & assembled in the clock.

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Tamworth - 3 Clocks


This city 413km NNW of Sydney has a stunning Post Office corner building opened in 1886. The 6m tower occupied by the clock is capped by a concrete cupola which houses the bell made by Gillett & Bland of Croydon. The clock was supplied & installed by Angelo Tornaghi of Sydney (responsible for many tower clocks in NSW). The clock is working but the dial is very weather-beaten.

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St. Pauls


A War Memorial brick clock tower with a 4 dial bronze clock on top, built by the West Tamworth Rotary Club in 1958 & dedicated to all Australians who have served in war. Note the stylised swords on the tower walls.

Spotted on St. Pauls Anglican Church, 18 Church St. West Tamworth, built 1909, but no info on clock found.

Manilla Barr




Manilla (512km from Sydney) has an interesting clock erected in 1938. The clock base has historic details about the growth of this town. The electric clock is in a 'box' & has a 60 second  impulse movement.


Silo art nearby

Barraba is 46km further inland from Manilla. The 9.2m clock tower was erected in 1924 by the RSL as a memorial to 53 locals fallen in the Great War. Names have been added with those from consequent wars.


Both clocks were renewed in 2023 with their internal master clocks replaced with 4 independent GPS controlled mechanisms that can reset after a power outage.



The Quirindi War Memorial 4 dial clock was built in 1924 on a round-about. It has the names of those who fell in WW1 & all wars that Australia has been involved in since. The clock was made by Smith of Derby, the bell made by J Taylor of Sydney. It was restored in 2017. A feature worth seeing is the nearby silo art with a sound & light show every night.

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Werris Creek

Werris Creek

Werris Creek, a heritage listed railway station (46kms SW of Tamworth) was built in the 1880's. The line here splits into two, one branch to Moree, the other to Armidale. Huge coal trains with up to 90 wagons also pass through. The museum & monuments to the railway workers is a must to visit.

As correct & accurate time was needed for train timetabling, safe working conditions for workers & for the arrival and departures of passengers, clocks had a huge role to play. The museum has many clocks used by NSW Rail on show. The bigger the clock the more important was the station! Seth Thomas was the main supplier of clocks to NSW Railways from the 1880's. Before this most clocks were English round wall clocks, some fusee. 

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Guards wristwatch C1970

Guards Omega pocket watch C1942

English fusee, wound every  Monday. Used 1930's- 70's

Large Seth Thomas wall clocks

Controllers Clock

A few of the clocks here



Found on this eye-catching Anglican church (All Saints), built in 1913, is a working 3dial clock made by John Smith & Sons of Derby. The building and fittings cost £25,450 gifted to the church. The 21m tall tower is based on the one at St Neot’s Church in Cornwall. It was the 6th. church in Australia to have a chimes carillon installed.

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Other timepieces - the 1868 Courthuse (39 Elizabeth St) with a Tornaghi of Sydney clock & a 159kg bell. Also a must is the sundial at Rose Point Park, 8 Ryan Ave. Built in 1987, it is one of the largest in the Southern Hemisphere - 8m in height with a gnomen 12m long. 



This fine looking heritage listed PO (3 Smith St.) was built in 1884 at a cost of £2700. Smith & Hansen of Sydney made the clock, but it was not installed till 1891 for £800. The 4 iron plate dials measure 1.7m. The weights for the pendulum & the works were 152kg each, the strike was 305kg supported on a 12m wire cable. The bell weighs over 200kg. Still working.

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The Jubilee Clock Tower - this 13m tower built in 1909 to celebrate Grafton's 50th. Jubilee cost £144. It was not a memorable start. The tower bricks were placed on the corner of  Prince & Pound St. causing two accidents as horses shied smashing their carts & injuring several people. The 4 dial non-striking clock was made by Angus & Coote of Sydney. In 1953 it was decorated with a crown that is now placed on its top every year in Oct. for Grafton's Jacaranda festival.


Across the road at the Clock Hotel is a 1/6th. scale replica made by the local Mens' Shed in 2009 for the clocks centenary.

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The Post Office - this building, erected in 1878 on Victoria St. though with a tower for a clock did not see one till a year later installed by Tornaghi of Sydney. It was to replace the 1pm time gun & signal staff as this was a busy port on the Clarence River.  

The 4dial clock with 1m diameter faces had a gravity escapement kept running by two suspended weights each weighing 27.2kg. with a 2m. pendulum & a bob weighing 46kg. It needed winding every day. The bell weighed 181kg. struck by a hammer weighing 8.1kg. Today the clock has passed its use & sits silent as buildings nearby tower over it.




This Post & Telegraph Office was built in 1898. The origin of this 4 dial clock is not clear, but it is believed to have come from the Sydney General Post Office back in 1887-8, made by Tornaghi. The bells were shipped up from Sydney aboard the steamer Electra. Both clock & bells proved to be problematic. The clocks mechanism often failed to strike correctly (in 1906 the bell struck 78 times at 12 noon)! The bells were often out of tune & the 4 quarter chime bells were removed & lost. The PO closed in 1992. The one striking bell remains.

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This interesting 3 dial shop-front clock was spotted in Moleswoth St. - not working.




Ball Taree

The Ballina Court House once the Post & Telegraph Office, was built in 1867. This has an impressive turret clock with a bell. The clock made by R. B. Smith & Hanson of Sydney, was not put into the tower to 1890 (they also made the PO clocks for Redfern, Tenterfield & Kempsey).


This electric clock sits in a 8.5m tall granite tower with four 1m diameter faces. A war memorial built in 1925 & has the names of all the locals who lost their lives in the many wars since.

The cost was nearly ₤1000. It was shifted 300m in 1966 to its present spot on Victoria Street overlooking the beautiful Manning river. A cross is recessed into the 4 sides with the clock in its center. Two soldiers stand either side. 

Byron Bay


Byron Casino

Clock supplied by the Byron Bay Rotary Club. It has four identical clock faces covered with perspex. Each face is 70cm in diameter & instead of numbers just 'strokes'. Cost $5,500.00, built 1988 an A Klee Synchronome Pty Ltd. clock.


Another Rotary clock built in 1994 - an electric clock in poor condition

Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie - War Memorial Clock, 47-51 High Street. Wauchope.


A 10m high, 4 dial, electric 60second impulse chiming clock was built in 1929 at a cost of £1200. This money was raised by the Wauchope Ladies’ Auxiliary in memory of the fallen locals who served in WW1. Plaques have since been added in memory of those who served in Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, Iraq & Afghanistan. The imposing white concrete tower has brown central panels with a vented roof.

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Port Macquarie Commemorative (WASPS) Town Clock


The New

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The Old

This street tower clock on the corner of Horton & William St, commemorates the Women’s Agricultural Security Production Service (WASPS). Consisting of 600 women (disbanded in 1947), they worked on agricultural activities during WW11, entitling them to wear a civilian service medal for their contribution to Australia’s war effort. Raising £637 for this clock tower it was matched by the Council. In 1947 the design by architect Lightfoot was submitted with a building cost of £1000. Some modifications had to be made as the base took up too much room. Finally, a two-dial clock was placed on a short pole on the top of an 8m fluted sandstone tower in the early 1950’s. In 2016 restoration work saw the clock taken off the ‘pole’ and a square 4-dial electric 60 second impulse clock attached to the top of the tower giving this tower a  more symmetrical & balanced look.

Port Macquarie - St. Thomas Anglican Church, 50 Hay Street.

This Church with a rectangular tower & a battlement parapet, was built from 1823 to 1827 by convict labour using 365,000 hand-made bricks with walls up to 1m thick. Governor Macquarie used the 530 convicts sentenced to live here to build this Church before a gaol was built as he thought it had more chance of saving their souls! Heritage-listed in 2002 this is a must visit.


1950's - no clock


Bell in tower

The Church tower has always had a bell in the 3-level tower, but the electric clock was not installed till 1988. In 2002 a Federal grant of $70,000 was awarded after it was heritage-listed. Today the narrow staircase to the top gives a stunning city view through the battlements - open for tours 2 mornings each week.


Newcastle Customs House – has an operational time ball. Built in 1877, this 32m. high tower with a weathervane & time ball on top, worked in tandem with the time gun set up at Fort Scratchley (650m away) – both operating at 1pm daily. This enabled sailors to check & reset their chronometers. In foggy weather the time ball drop was concealed so a time gun was very necessary for the sailors.

The first Time Ball (a 1m. diameter, painted black & made of wicker) was on the Telegraph Office & operated from 1870 – 1887 (can be viewed at the Maritime Museum). The new time ball (136kg. of steel & copper, 1.8m in diameter, dropping 2m.) from 1888 was operated by a telegraphed time signal from Sydney Observatory. It was retired in 1941 when radio became the main navigation tool. In 1988 the time ball was restored to celebrate Australia’s Bicentennial.

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Time Ball top of mast


Time Gun fired

The clock installed in 1878 was made by Angelo Tornaghi of Sydney, a scientific instrument & clock maker. He imported clock mechanisms, installing, repairing them & making the glass faces. Today this building is a hotel with a restaurant & function rooms.

City Hall Newcastle – this 58m tower is an impressive landmark for the city’s skyline. The 4-dial clock & bell on the Hall was opened in 1929. The clock was supplied by Prouds of Sydney together with 15 slave clocks costing £850. The building had become almost derelict until a $5million, 18months restoration work in 2015/16 returned it to its former glory. The clock is fully automated with LED lighting allowing the faces to change colour. The building is now used as a concert hall with function rooms.

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Other Newcastle Clocks of interest –

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The Old Railway Station – on the corner of Scott & Watt St. This historic rail station within sight of the Customs House still has the original 1878 platforms & seats & operates today as an open area for markets. Found here is the time board for the 4 platforms, two of which were allocated for the Central Coast & Newcastle line & the other two for the Hunter line. All four lines were electrified in 1984. Note that the time board used a foot pad to change the clock hands!

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Garside Sun Dial in King Edward Park Newcastle -  was presented to the Council in 1909. It sits in the rose gardens in honour of Bob Garside who was the superintendent of the cities Parks & Gardens. His ashes rest under the sun dial. The very aged brass dial has lost its gnomon but is still legible with a quality equation of time for accuracy.

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Sun Dial

The Morning Herald  Newcastle – has an electric clock over its entrance. The building is dated 1858 - 1929 & has had a $42million renovation in 2015/16 with apartments created & a penthouse to the top. A 2018 picture shows an empty hole above the main door – so this may be a recent addition.

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M Herald

The Newcastle Museum – has on display some very interesting items, especially the International Time Recording Co. Bundy clock. It was one of 4 that were used by employees to log on & off every day. In the 1960’s the Bundy clocks were used by over 700 workers at the rail yards. Thanks Fran for all these snaps from Newcastle.


The W R Alexander Tower at 111 Beaumont St. Newcastle. This 2dial clock tower was added to the building in 1928 & the electric clock in 1930 to honour WR Alexander a local councillor & mayor who died in 1928. In 1989 the Newcastle earthquake badly damaged the tower & a new building was erected in 1991. It was able to reuse the original roof, clock mechanism & faces. Today the Clock Tower Café sits under the Tower.

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Clock Cafe

Sawtell, Coffs Harbour Rotary Clock

This triangular 5m. clock tower with an electric clock on 3 sides was unveiled in 2008 to commemorate 100years of Rotary International for the Sawtell club. The semi-transparent backlit glass panels reflect 3 themes – Sawtell Surf culture, the Natural Environment and Community & Heritage with graphics, overlaid text & photos. Local school students, businesses & Southern Cross University all contributed to its design.


Grace Bros Broadway in Sydney with Clock Towers.   

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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.

The Glen Innes Town Hall

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. 


The Forbes Post Office.


The historic town of Forbes is just 32km from Parkes. Paul noted that this was “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.                                                                                                                           

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. 


The Tenterfield Post Office Clock


This snap from Paul's collection shows a 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.


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. 


However 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.



The Seiko Marionette Watch – Central Plaza  (Corner LaTrobe and Swanston Streets).


A definite must see, this giant ‘fob watch’ was a gift to the people of Melbourne. It can be found in the 55storey shopping center built by Japanese firm Kumagai Gumi between 1986 and 1991 at a cost of $1.2 billion. This structure also encases the historic shot tower in a 20-storey glass cone.


The watch originally hung on a 12m chain but since renovation has now been attached to the 3rd level side wall. On the hour a marionette display drops down from the bottom of the watch with 4 galahs, 3 cockatoos & 2 minstrels performing Waltzing Matilda. The show lasts for round 3 minutes.


The back of this watch allows you to see the internals where two koalas swinging from side to side acting as the escapement lever pallets. It has a 60second impulse.

View this watch on 'You Tube'.

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Lead Pipe & Shot Factory

Flinders Street Station Clocks -


Flinders was built in 1910 and had nine Gent & Co. of Leicester electric clocks under the dome. These were removed from service in 1983 & replaced with digital displays, but a public outcry resulted in the old clocks restored & put back! They show the departure times of trains that date back to the 1860’s, manually operated by an officer using a long pole. There was a total of 60 Bathgate indicators bought from England & when the station was demolished in 1904, they were put into storage. 28 were placed back into the new station in 1910 with 9 of these put at the entrance. A digital board beneath them gives the platform number. Today these clocks have become part of the Melburnian dialect “meet under the clocks”.


The main clock in the tower at the Elizabeth St entrance was made by F Ziegeler & installed in 1908. It stands 37m above road level & has a 3.35m diameter illuminated dial. Originally it needed a daily wind but is now electrically operated.

Gog & Magog

Gog & Magog bell ringers, Royal Arcade, Bourke St. Melbourne.

This historic shopping arcade, built in 1870, is the home of a special automata clock – the Gog & Magog bell ringers made by Thomas Gaunt in 1892. Thomas built some amazing clocks (mainly turret clocks for town halls, churches & post offices) & as reported in Snapshots ‘Did You Know’ the 1876 chronograph accurate to a quarter of a second at Flemington Racecourse.

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At this Arcade are two giant 2m. figures modelled on those at Guildhall, London (1708). They have long beards, staring eyes, are painted in bright colours & carved out of pine. They strike the bells every hour, standing either side of a large 1.5m. diameter clock with Gaunt’s name on it. This clock was originally hanging above his shop at the Southern end of the arcade. It was made by one of his workers Fritz Ziegeler.


The Town Hall Melbourne – 90-130 Swanston St.

Town Hall

Opened in 1870, the Tower includes a 2.4m diameter clock operating from late 1874. It was made by Smith & Sons of Clerkenwell London, costing about £400. The minute hand is made of copper & measures 1.19m in length weighing 8.85kg. Today the Hall is a venue for special events, concerts & theatre performances.


GPO Melbourne –  on the corner of Elizabeth and Bourke streets.


This interesting clock dates from 1887 when the sandstone clock tower was added to the PO building (the first level was built in 1859, the second between 1858-67). The clock was made in Williamstown with parts from Glasgow. The clock had 12 fixed bells able to play 28 tunes using 4 drums with 7 tunes. At first a tune was played every 15minutes all day and night! Today it plays for only 3hours during daytime. The GPO was closed in 1992 & plans to redesign it to a shopping centre, then a Five Star Hotel in 1997, fell through. In 2001 the GPO was badly burnt by fire forcing restoration. In 2004 it reopened as a shopping centre.


The Forum Theatre Melbourne (formerly the State Theatre) 


On the corner of Flinders & Russel St. is an Arabic inspired building with a 49m clock tower. Built in 1928 it was then the biggest theatre in Australia with a seating capacity of 3371 people. Today it hosts live music, theatre & events. The copper domed clock tower features a replica minaret of the Cairo Mosque with smaller minarets with ornate windows. The clock is electric (as was most clocks made from the 1930’s) & has a dial 25ft (7.62m) in diameter.


Thanks Tom for sending these interesting pictures of the public clocks you found in the Melbourne CBD.


The Echuca Post Office. A town of 13,000 on the Murray river, was in the late 1800’s a key inland river port and rail junction. Today, Echuca is famous for having the world’s largest fleet of operating paddle steamers.


This is an outstanding two-storey PO, built in 1879 for £12,000, with 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. This clock has needed attention over the years leading to its conversion to electric in the 1970’s. In 2000, the clock 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 - now luxury apartments with a café & restaurant. The clock still functions though it was not striking.

Original movement still resides in the tower.


Camperdown, 150km SW of Melbourne, is a small town of 4000 people, renowned for its historical buildings. It is the location for an impressive 31.4m (100ft) tall clock tower. Built in 1896, at a cost of £1400, (the tower £950, the clock £450), was paid mostly by a £1,000 bequest from Thomas Manifold (his father an early pioneer).

There are 5 levels within the tower, the 2nd. level housing the 3 bells with the clock in the 3rd level. The tower was repaired in 2018 for just over $400,000 including the replacement of the 4 dials. The tower is open to the public to climb to the observation room on the first Sunday of the month - but only for the fit with 95 stairs to master.


The clock was imported from England by T Gaunt & Co (though Fritz Ziegeler an apprentice of Gaunt also lists it as his). It had 3 ‘drums’ that needed wound weekly with the 4 dials measuring diameter. The 3 bells were cast by Mears & Stainbank of London & weigh 406kg, 178kg and 102kg respectively. Gaunt’s name is on them. At the opening ceremony in 1896, Mrs Manifold cut the ribbon with a pair of silver scissors made by Gaunt & Co. 

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