Saturday, 28 February 2015

Oxford - Part1: The University

The dreaming spires of Oxford. Or, in the case of my first few hours there, the streaming spires of Oxford. The city is not a good place in the rain for the pedestrian. Irregularities in the pavements creates puddles galore, and poor drainage of the highway creates even bigger puddles. And the disgraceful state (or possibly lack) of the guttering delivers streams of cold water from those oh so nice buildings onto the downtrodden and very sodden pedestrian. They may have invented the wheel, split the atom and created the internet (or possibly none of these) at Oxford, but they can't seem to get to grips with very basic water management.

But having said that, (a) this blog is not about urban design, and (b) when the sun came out Oxford was a very nice place to be.

So on to the clocks. This posting is split into this part which covers the university buildings, and the next two parts which will cover everything else.

Information on all of the colleges and other university buildings is easily available, so I won't say too much here.

Our first stop is at The Queen's College, founded in 1341.

The clock was made in 1880 by Gillett and Bland of Croydon (now Gillett and Johnston), and has been looked after by a gentleman called John Richards since 1975 (thanks to The Queen's College Newsletter Issue 20 for those facts).

On the opposite side of the High Street (aka The High) is University College.

St Mary's , also on The High, is not technically part of the university, but is generally considered to be the official university church.

Green Templeton College on Woodstock Road is a newcomer, formed by the merger of two educational institutions in 2008.

The clock tower is also deceptive, being added as recently as 1979.

Trinity College is on Broad Street.

Next door to Trinity is Balliol College, founded in 1263.

Christ Church College is the biggie in terms of grandeur, but is a relative newcomer, being founded as late as 1524.

The main entrance is Tom Tower. The bell rings 101 times (once for each of the original students, although could cash in these days by adopting a Dalmatian theme) at 9.05 pm each evening, originally as a signal for students to return to college before the gates were locked. Why 9.05 pm? Because this is actually 9 pm in Oxford time (before the arrival of the railways in the 19th century, everywhere kept its local time  - see the earlier posting on Bristol).

The clock itself is by Joyce of Whitchurch and dates from 1889, later converted to electric motors by Smith of Derby.

The History Faculty in George Street is housed in what was, until 1966, the High School for Boys.

The Examination Schools in Merton Street are where all students sit their finals.

The clock has a certain similarity with that on the History Faculty building.

Onwards to Jesus College. The clock was installed in 1831. Reportedly the college tradition is that students aim a champagne cork at the clock after finishing their finals - hitting the clock means you will get a first. This wouldn't have worked at my university - it is difficult to throw the ring pull from a lager can very far.

Harris Manchester College has this new, multi-faceted clock tower on Mansfield Road.

The six dials, of 765 mm diameter, were manufactured by Smith of Derby. The rings are gilded with 23.5 carat English gold leaf.

In tune with the somewhat eccentric time keeping rituals of Oxford, the bell rings at two minutes past the hour.

And the tower has a rather nifty weather vane.

St Hughs College in St Margarets Road has two clocks. One is on the main building...

...and the other is further along the road on what I assume is student accommodation.

Finally, to St John's College.


Friday, 20 February 2015


Teddington, south west London. Perhaps not the brightest idea to go when England are playing Italy in the Six Nations at nearby Twickenham, but nothing gets in the way of the intrepid clock hunter.

We start with a newish building with a very nice clock. A traditional clock face design, and a good size and well positioned - it can be seen for a long way down the High Street.

So good marks to the architects and/or commissioners of Goodrich House.


Further down in the High Street, heading towards the river, we find the Clock House pub.

As you can see, this is really an impostor in this blog as it is merely a clock motif rather than an actual clock. And it used to be called the King's Arms, so probably has no historical association with clocks. And the main hanging sign is currently languishing off its hinges and stored on the roof. And the reviews say that the quality has gone down hill (too early in the morning to test that myself). But I've decided to include it anyway (possibly in the hope that the owners might be nudged into providing a real clock - which if that happens I will definitely go in and have a pint or two to celebrate).

Okay, more modern buildings on the High Street. This is Thames House at 180 High Street, an NHS facility.

My guess is that this building dates from 2002.

The setting of the clock is not as good as on Goodrich House. It seems rather lost amongst all of the rather plain brickwork on the tower. A bit more decoration would have helped, or the opportunity could have been taken to install a large modern clock face.

We now retrace our steps (although I would recommend first continuing down the High Street to see the wonderful pedestrian bridge across the river) and head out along Broad Street.

J Coutts the jewellers has what is a typical drum clock with ornate bracket, but nevertheless still a welcome sight in these days of increasingly featureless and/or tacky shopping streets.

It is features like this, and nice simple street name signs, that make all the difference.

Onwards to the Teddington Memorial Hospital (originally the Teddington and Hampton Wick Cottage Hospital, albeit in a different building, and then the Teddington, Hampton Wick and District Memorial Hospital, but these days poor old Hampton Wick doesn't get a look in - is it because it rhymes with sick, and therefore gives the hospital a bad image?)

The building dates from 1929, although it has had numerous extensions and alterations over the years.

The clock was presented to the hospital in memory of the May family who ran the plant nursery in nearby Connaught Road. The clock was moved from the nursery. In 2009 the League of Friends of Teddington Memorial Hospital raised funds to repair and refurbish the clock. So hurrah to the League of Friends for that (and other work to support the hospital -

The clock tower has an interesting weather vane, depicting a baby in a cot and a nurse.

Next stop is the Hampton Hill post office, with its stopped clock.

I don't know what is next building is, but it looks like it is having a modern extension added in a style sympathetic to the original structure. With a clock on the roof.

Its new sign says Network House, but the inscription over the original entrance says 8th Battalion Middlesex Regiment. A quick web search suggests that the 8th Battalion was made up of volunteers, so I assume that this building was a TA base.

Church clocks normally put in an appearance wherever you go, and this is St James Church Hampton Hill according to its sign, in St James's Street.


The church is a Grade II listed building opened in 1863. The clock, with its four dials, is by Smith of Derby, and was installed in December 1893.

The hands of the north dial were stolen in 1974, but were later left on the church's door step. Unfortunately they were badly damaged.

On to a bus spotter's paradise, otherwise known as Fulwell Bus Garage in Wellington Road.

The building was originally built in 1902 as a tram depot. Trolleybuses were introduced in 1931, usurping the nasty old trams which only lasted until 1935. Later the trolleybuses became the nasty old things themselves, and the building was converted to a bus garage in 1962. Now of course everyone recognises that trams are an excellent form of transport for large urban areas (and even a few people who think trolleybuses are pretty neat - aren't they going to be introduced in Leeds?).

Anyway, the point is that this tram/trolleybus/bus depot has a clock.

And finally, on to the Mall School at 185 Hampton Road, which is an independent day school for 4 - 13 year old boys, established in 1872 (the school that is, not the boys, or else the last pupil would have left in 1885).

And so it is time to say goodbye to Teddington.