Have you noticed how many enormous, visible clocks there are around Melbourne? Do you ever use them to check the time, or is a quick glance at your mobile phone more appropriate to your habits these days?
Many of Melbourne's city clocks were installed in the late 1800's, when individual timepieces were still too expensive for the general population. Even for those who were wealthy enough to afford their own pocket watch, the complicated pieces, still needed to wound and re-set regularly. Melbourne's big, public clocks ran according to planetary signals collected from the Melbourne Observatory. They provided standard time for the population.
We might not use the clocks so much these days but have become an important part of the city landscape. Do you know where all of them are? Which one of these do you think deserves the title of being Melbourne's coolest clock?
The General Post Office Clock
The clock upon the tall, tower at the GPO is visible from many locations
Sitting in the official centre of Melbourne's CBD, this huge clock above the GPO building appeared in 1867. Twenty years later, when the third story was added to the building, the clock tower was redesigned and grew to its now recognisable, full height.
The clock has a total of twelve bells, enough to make up a full set of what is called in bell-speak a 'carillon'. The General Post Office clock was created by Thomas Gaunt & Co who called himself the 'only watch manufacturer in the Australian colonies'. His workshop was one of the original stores that occupied Melbourne's Royal Arcade.
The Flower Clock On St Kilda Road, as part of the Queen Victoria gardens, this clock was given to the City of Melbourne by the Watchmakers of Switzerland. Since 1966, it has been perpetually replanted, with around 7000 flowering plants.
The flower clock planted in a pattern of contrasting green
It's a clock that children love, being so different to what they normally see. It's also interesting in that it is constantly reinvented with different coloured flowers appearing at different times of the year. Many Melbournians and tourists alike visit this clock to take photos. Do you have any?
The Clocks at Flinders Street Station.
Nine of Melbourne's train line clocks (source: en.wikipedia.org, photo by: Adam.J.W.C.)
A series of clocks created for the practical purpose of letting people know how long it would be before their train would leave, the clocks at Flinders Street Station are now more famous as a meeting point. They even have their own Melbourne catch phrase, "'I'll meet you under the clocks."
There are nine clocks in total with another four in an archway on the side plus one, high up on the building above. They've been there since 1860 and before the age of computerised controls, used to have their hands moved manually by a railway officer using a long pole.
There was once a plan to replace all of the Flinders Street Station clocks with a digital display. Public protest stopped any reconstruction work from going ahead.
The Nylex Clock
The Nylex Clock (source: en.wikipedia.org, photo by: Vincent Quach)
The Nylex Plastic Clock is alarmingly digital compared to the others. It appeared in 1961 courtesy of the Nylex Plastics company and was original neon but is now filled with LED's.
This clock has had its fair share of controversy, beginning with the suggestion that the Richmond silos it sits upon be demolished and the clock removed. Public outcry saved the clock and it was properly restored so that it could function once again. Now, with the Nylex company in receivership, there's the chance it may be sold off as a company assets. Who knows what its future holds?
The Dimmey's Clock
The ball and tower clock at Dimmey's on Swan Street
Located on Swan Street in Richmond, this iconic clock has the letters that spell D-I-M-M-E-Y-S-S-T-O-R-E on it's clock face where the numbers should be. It sits inside of a short tower with a blue ball on top and is recognised as one example of Melbourne's interesting architecture. H.W. & F.B. Tompkins were responsible for the design and are the same people who styled The Hardwick Building on Sydney Road, as well as many other famous Melbourne buildings.
The Clock at Melbourne Central
The animated clock at Melbourne Central (by: Camstar5414)
There are not many clocks that you'll see people lining up to see but this one has added appeal in that it mechanically opens upon the hour to reveal moving birds and animals. It also plays the national anthem. Ironically, if you're out and about in the city and you want to make it to Melbourne Central to see the display, you're probably going to have to keep an eye on your watch so that you get there on time.
The clock was made by Seiko and given to Melbourne as a gift. Originally a fob watch, it did once have a looping, gold chain attached. It was taken off when Melbourne Central went through its redevelopment and has not been put back on again.
The Clock in Royal Arcade
Magog the Giant beats the hour upon his bell in Melbourne's Royal Arcade
Another one that performs for passers-by, this clock is flanked by two mythological characters Gog and Magog who symbolise the conflict between the ancient Britons and their Trojan invaders. Gog, on the northern side of the clock and Magog to the south have been beating against the bells since 1892. The clock was designed to mimic the carvings that sit in London's Guildhall.
Melbourne's Clocks are iconic. Do you have any personal memories about them or know some of the history behind each one? Which one's your favourite and why? We'd love to know so type us a message below.