Sunday, 19 July 2015

South London Church x3

A recent trip to the Marc Quinn exhibition (love the sculptures, not so keen on the other works) at the magnificent White Cube gallery in Bermondsey took me passed three clock be-decked churches, and hence they have been grouped together in this posting.

Two of the churches were familiar to me from previous visits to the White Cube and other forays south of the river (apparently the ancient bye law,  much quoted by London cabbies, of not travelling south of the river does not apply during daylight hours). The third one was found on a serendipitous diversion.

The first of the trio (or I suppose I should call it a trinity) is opposite Borough tube station. This is St George the Martyr.

The church dates from 1736, but is now dominated by much more modern architecture. And in particular the Shard, which can be seen as a backdrop to all three churches in this survey.


There are subtle difference in the clock faces on the southern and western aspects. Both are similar in size, colour and the use or a decorated surround.

The difference is in the design of the numerals and the hands, both of which are more decorative on the southern face....
....than they are on the western face.

The walk to the White Cube takes you along Long Lane and then left into Bermondsey Street, where you immediately come upon church number two - St Mary Magdalen.

This is more hemmed in than St Georges, and has two identical clock faces visible to those going up and down Bermondsey Street. The adjacent churchyard is now a haven of a small park, from where you can see the shard rising up again in the distance.

There has been a church on the site since 1290, but the present building dates from 1690 with additions in 1705 and 1794, and major alterations in 1830.

The clock, by the way, is not currently working.

To vary my trip, I walked back to Borough station via Great Dover Street. About halfway along, there is a divergent road called Trinity Street - could that be trinity as in Holy Trinity church, and hence the possibility of a clock? Only one way to find out of course.

To which I was rewarded with a very British / London sight - a square enclosed with railings, with nearby traditional red post box and telephone box. The big difference from most other London squares is that this one has a big church sitting in the middle of it. I really wasn't expecting to find this scene.

And hurrah, the church has a clock.

The church is, of course, Holy Trinity, and the square is Trinity Church Square.

Holy Trinity dates from 1824.

Oh look, there's the Shard in the background:

The hands on the main fa├žade are not in a good a condition as they should be.




Friday, 17 July 2015


Hythe is just across Southampton Water from its big city neighbour, but is a world apart. It is a land of quaint shops and ancient pier railways, where mammoth ships slip silently past parkland scenes.

Access from the city is by a combination of small ferry and pier, the latter journey being completed either on foot or by the small railway. None of this has anything to do with clocks, but I find all of this fascinating and so have included some pics. Scroll down of you are only interested in the clocks as I feel a long digression coming on.

Below is the small passenger vessel operated by the Hythe Ferry Company from the Town Quay, past the big ships in dock, to Hythe Pier, a journey of about 12 minutes.

The pier  was opened in1881, stretching out 640 metres from the shore. A lot more information can be found on the website of the National Piers Society (
The easiest way of reaching dry land is to hop on board the little train. The line was originally opened as a baggage only railway in 1909, but was replaced by the current 2 ft  gauge electric railway in 1922.
It is claimed that this is the world's oldest pier train, not that I can think of too many other examples. The trains themselves are certainly old - the locomotives were built by the Brush Electrical Engineering Company in 1917 for the Avonmouth Mustard Gas Works, and subsequently sold to the pier railway.

It certainly is a quaint little railway, but still a good way to connect to the ferry.

And here is a picture of a mammoth ship slipping silently past a parkland scene.

By the shore end of the pier stands Hotspur House - and yes, a clock at last after all this pier waffle. I always liked this form of simple clock fixed directly to a wall, but this is a rather oddly positioned one.

Meanwhile, just around the corner, the bunting is out in town, and the Rotary International clock stands guard outside Costa.

And our final Hythe clock is to be found atop the marina boathouse, in what seems to be a fairly standard design for modern marinas.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Southampton (Part 2)

After touring around the edges, it is now time to strike down the main spine of the city, north to south.

The newish construction that is Moore Blatch Solicitors sits on the junction of Bellevue Road with London Road. In terms of clock hunting, this was a classic case of making sure that you look everywhere. Walking north up London Road on the same side as the building, I was totally oblivious to the clock. It goes to show that it pays to walk both ways along, particular urban, roads.

Just to the south, where London Road meets Cumberland Place and is just about to turn into Above Bar Street (now marketed as the QE2 Mile - rather confusingly as everywhere else the city bangs on about the Titanic) is another example of a modern building with an old-fashioned style clock. This time it is the offices of Paris Smith, a big regional law firm. Is it now compulsory for legal firms to have clocks - something to do with charging by the hour perhaps?

Lets move on. The Civic Centre is the cultural heart of the city, although slightly tarnished now by part of the complex now being the O2 Guildhall, the modern extension that houses SeaCity (which bizarrely was advertising dinosaur exhibitions, dinosaurs not being renowned for their ship building expertise or sailing adventures), and I am sure that the art collection is not as big as it used to be. Although that last point may just be the Wagon Wheel phenomenon.

Anyway, Civic Centre, big clock tower. In many ways a rather silly construction, but a glorious silly construction. I mistimed my visit as in the next few weeks there are some guided tours inside the tower.

Back to the QE2 Mile, which is one of the main shopping streets - or rather the residue that hasn't been hoovered up into the West Quays shopping centre or the awful retail sheds that lie to the west of it.

This is a standard Rolex clock on the premises of Parkhouse Jewellers.

Nearby is a Rotary International clock (celebrating 100 years) on top of an advertising column.

I love this next clock on the junction with Bargate Street. The simplicity and the materials, both of the clock face and the wall it is on, just seem to be in harmony.

Just a shame it doesn't give the right time!

The Bargate shopping centre is now closed, perhaps sucked dry by the shiny new West Quays centre. Was this once a clock above its now locked doors?

And finally, something of older Southampton. This is Holy Rood church, or rather the remains of it.

The building, originally built in 1320, was severely damaged by bombing on 30 November 1940.

And so with the banging of the bells, we say goodbye to Southampton.