Tuesday, 29 October 2013

York (Part 1)

The City of York provides a treasure trove of clocks. Our usual starting point of the railway station is a prime example.

I love this first exhibit, a very large Gents specimen, as most large timepieces in Victorian railway stations tend to be circular designs with Roman numerals. This one defies all conventions by being square, very plain, and with Arabic numerals.

The size of the clock can be better appreciated in the picture below.

But York is a very traditional Victorian railway station, and so it is only right and proper that it also has a classic round clock, with Roman numerals and an ornamental bracket. The picture below also gives a glimpse of the great arched and curved trainshed which makes it one of the finest stations in the country.

For information, the station was opened in 1877, replacing a previous version that was located within the city walls which made through journeys more difficult. (The city walls are another reason for visiting York). At the time of opening it was supposedly the largest station in the world.

Back to the clock, which has this curious additional face on the edge of the casing, which faces passengers crossing over the footbridge.

I assume that this is all linked to another clockface located above W H Smith, which backs on to the main clock.

That is quite an impressive show of clocks for one station, but there is more to come. Over the exit to the station is a rather utilitarian clock (Gents again). However, I am a bit worried that the old semaphore signal suggests that a train might plough through this concourse.

And there is still more. On the outside of the station, above the bus stops, is another bracket mounted clock (Gents again).

You can see the observation wheel in the distance in the picture below. I didn't bother to go on it, and didn't see many other people on it either. York to me seems like a city that needs to be explored on foot, and if you need a bit of elevation you can walk around the fine walls.

Let's move away from the station (for railway lovers, we will visit the National Railway Museum in a later posting) and around the corner into Blossom Street. Here we find the Bar Convent, which is described on its website as museum, conferencing, café, guesthouse, chapel, garden, shop - quite impressive for what appears to be a relatively small building. It is also England's oldest convent, founded in 1686.

The clock was linked by a driving rod in 1790 to the original Hindley clock of 1770 in the central court (which I only found out about in subsequent research or else I would have gone in to see it. And the menu for afternoon teas looks good).

On the opposite side of the street is the Premier Inn (or rather confusingly two Premier Inns linked together sort of) where I stayed - well how could I resist staying in a hotel with a clock?

I assume that this clock tower originally served a building with another purpose - a department store perhaps? [11 November 2013 - thanks to the blog York Stories (www.yorkstories.co.uk) I now know that this building used to be Forsselius Garage, a car showroom].

Unfortunately the clock is not in the best of conditions, and is certainly no longer working.

So, time for some rest in the hotel before we hit the sights of York.

Sunday, 13 October 2013


Newark Northgate station has this fine example of a Potts clock on Platform 1. Its positioning and design is certainly a throw back to times gone by, but is wonderful to see. Full marks to East Coast trains for keeping it in good condition.

On the other side of town is Newark Castle station. Close to this is the building below. The surrounding car park is shown on the maps as an arena, so presumably it is used for occasional events.

The building acts as the arena pavilion and toilet block.

There are two clock faces - one side is in reasonable condition (although the hands are a bit bent), but the other face is in a much worse condition.

Looking across from the arena/car park, you can see this building. It sits by the River Trent, so presumably its original purpose was something to do with river trade and industry. However, it has now been incorporated into a sheltered housing complex.

We are now on Bar Gate, facing the entrance to the highly descriptive Slaughterhouse Lane. Although this now in fact leads to a Morrisons supermarket.

Ostensibly in Church Street, St Mary's church, which its spire reaching 236 feet (72 m), dominates the centre of the town, and forms a backdrop to Market Place, the main town square.

Thanks to the Southwell & Nottingham Church History Project web pages (southwellchurches.nottingham.ac.uk) I can tell you that the clock has three 7ft (2.1 m) diameter and one 9ft (2.7 m) diameter faces. The clock mechanism of 1898 is originally by Joyce (of Whitchurch), and was converted to electrical working in 1971 by Smith of Derby.

Next up are the fabulous offices of the Castle Brewery in Albert Street.

Nothing to do with clocks, but I love this depiction of Newark Castle which sits below the clock tower.

This now deserted site was once John Harrison car dealers in Lombard Street.

Our final clock in Newark is indoors. This is the Buttermarket shopping centre, located in a former covered market hall opened on 13 October 1884 (so happy 129th birthday). It was converted to the Buttermarket in 1990.

Part of the shopping centre seems to be called The Royal Exchange, as evidenced by the clock.

Saturday, 5 October 2013


Gainsborough is a town of about 20,000 in Lincolnshire. It was once a significant manufacturing centre, with the main company being Marshall, Sons & Co. Marshalls manufacturing a wide range of agricultural machinery, including boilers, steam rollers and tractors. The company has now gone, and part of its Britannia Works site is now the Marshall's Yard shopping precinct.

Marshall's Yard has two clocks. The first is on the premises of Stanley Hunt, a jewellers shop. The clock itself is not working, which is never a good sign for a shop selling watches and other timepieces.

But it has a nice simple design and is in very good condition (although I assume that it is relatively new).

At the end of the parade of shops is this rather unusual example. it is in effect a clock built into a window, and is an attractive feature.

I particularly like the fact that there are 60 bricks in the surrounding ring, meaning that you can measure time to the nearest minute. Clearly a bit of thought has gone into this bespoke design. Full marks to whoever ensured that this clock was installed.

The Hair Gallery is a hair salon on Trinity Street. Not much to say about it really, but a perfectly respectable example for such an establishment.

Next up is the Millennium Clock, installed in 1999 by the bus station (and unveiled by the Prince of Wales no less).

It is the design that sprung up in many towns during this time. However, this particular example has not fared all that well as some of the faces have become fairly opaque.

Aeternum was the Latin name for Gainsborough (okay, of course it wasn't - I think that "in aeternum" means forever).

Our final point of call in Gainsborough is on Church Street at the marvellously named Fanny Marshall Memorial Institute, which is sadly now in a state of decay.

The building was funded by James Marshall (one of the sons in Marshall, Sons & Co) and dedicated to his wife Fanny.

As can be seen, the clock face has some major damage. Let's hope that someone will buy the building and restore it to its former glory.

An interesting mix of clocks for a small town (and I know that the Potts market hall clock was only removed in the last year or two, and I have missed the one on the old technical institute that is now part of the Queen Elizabeth High School).