Saturday, 21 September 2013

Open House London

Today was Open House London (as is tomorrow) when hundreds of buildings across the capital are thrown open to the public. Visiting just a few of them presented the opportunity to take some photos of clocks, many of which would not normally be in public view. The buildings were visited for their architectural interest rather than specifically for their clocks.

First stop was One Canada Square in Canary Wharf - great views from the 39th floor, but not a single decent clock inside (although see my posting of 1st June 2013 for clocks in the area). Next stop was HM Treasury. Only this bog-standard modern design was on view:

Our next calling point is the UK Supreme Court in Parliament Square. Whilst in the queue you can easily see the clocks of two of the most well-known buildings in London - the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey (if you need any further information on these buildings I am sure you will be able to find the odd snippet on the internet!).

The Supreme Court building was originally the Middlesex Guildhall, opened in 1913. It was reopened as the home of the Supreme Court and Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in 2009.

Below is the clock in the Library (and no, I don't know why its glass door is open, but perhaps it was to keep adjusting the hands which were clearly not showing the right time).

Court Room 2 has a totally different style of timepiece.

The face is in Welsh slate and was designed by Richard Kindersley. A splendid looking clock, and one of the few in the building showing the right time. Perhaps functionality follows design.

A couple more examples in the building:

And then finally on to Court Room 3, and a lovely clock in wood.

Onwards to St Columba's in Pont Street, Knightsbridge. This Church of Scotland building replaces a Victorian one of 1884 that was destroyed during the blitz in 1941.

Building of the new church began in 1950, and was completed in 1955. The architecture was Sir Edward Maufe, and he achieved a simple but elegant design (internal and external) in concrete. The main church space on the first floor is awe-inspiring by its plain elegance.

The clock mechanism, by Gents of Leicester, can be viewed as you ascend the tower (by nice solid and wide concrete steps, not the rickety and tight wooden ones found in many churches).

And on the floor below is another Gents clock.

Last port of call (a highly appropriate term in this case) is Custom House, built to collect all the duties from the Port of London. The building dates from 1817, but was rebuilt in 1825 due to structural faults.

The Long Room measures 50 metres by 19 metres, and is 16 metres high (so is generally big as well as being long).

On the river-facing long side is this clock:

...whilst there is a much smaller timepiece on each of the shorter walls.

Opposite the main clock, and by the same manufacturer, is this weather vane repeater which is linked to the actual vane on the roof, and in the days of sailing ships gave usual information to those working in the building.

Outside, there is a main clock on the river-facing fa├žade.

And finally, thanks to Open-City ( who organise this fantastic event very year, and to the helpful and friendly staff and volunteers in each of the buildings visited.


  1. Thanks for your comment. Open House London is a brilliant initiative, and I urge everyone to support it (and the similar events that happen around the country). The next Open House London is on 19/20 September 2015.