We reproduce here an article by the late Brian Jepson from January 2010 with a 2018 update.

Visual assessment conducted early November 2009 (column 1) and August 2018 (column 2)

[Click the above link to view the PDF file of this table; opens in a new window.]

Since I was implicated in the 'Tom Gondris Challenge' (Newsletter October 2009) of reassessing the town's public clocks, the above review has been undertaken. The numbering sequence is based on beginning in the north with Christchurch Mansion and St Margaret's Church progressing clockwise (what else?) east, south, west, then returning to the north with Tower Ramparts.

In overall terms and probably a decade on, things have declined. The current economic climate precludes owners/organisations from spending on maintaining invariably ancient timepieces requiring that twice a year hourly adjustment. I suspect the horology expertise needed to maintain our street viewed clocks is a diminishing skill in our computer age.

Congratulations to those with sufficient civic pride in keeping the clocks going, and to those responsible for the sad static hands perhaps they can be encouraged to get them moving. This applies particularly to clocks numbered 3, 13 and 16, these being in key open locations and would restore the feeling of pride in our town, especially so if illuminated at night. This review indicates a 30% non-functioning rate and raises the question how this would compare with similar sized venues in East Anglia, let alone mainland European urban centres where my suspicion is that greater community zeal exists.

Please let me know if you find errors in my analysis, in particular if I have failed to discover some worthy contender in the heart of our town. I am aware of good examples further out of town, but the recording of these (invariably on cycle) will await more suitable weather.

Brian Jepson [2009]


All the working clocks looked at in 2018 varied by a minute or two, but we have highlighted those which varied by 10 minutes or more. ‘Not going well’ indicates stopped or way off the correct time. Clocks on buildings are a dying breed, some have disappeared such as that which was once on Clydesdale House (now in Giles Square), although you can see the marks of the hour indicators on the wall. However, a new digital display projecting from the Aqua Pharmacy in Duke Street shows the temperature and the time in turn.

The clock over the entrance to Tower Ramparts Shopping Centre (R.I.P.) has been swept away by ‘Sailmakers’. We couldn’t find the clock on Electric House, nor that on the Church of St Matthew – not the easiest church to inspect. St Margaret and St Clement now have reliable electric clock mechanisms, replacing the faithful clock-winders who once climbed the ancient towers each week. Somehow a public clock is just that bit more romantic than a mobile telephone for telling the time. There is a project and website called Stopped clocks which seeks to get public clocks across the country working again.


Our back cover this issue showing all the clock faces we could find. [Click this link for PDF file for larger images.]