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Antique Clocks Blog Home → Viewing post: "Public clocks"

Public clocks July 27, 2012

Chester Eastgate Clock

In this piece I will be carrying on from my piece about researching antique clock makers, I suggested visiting the 17th/18th century church in the town your grandfather clock was built. Clockmakers often repaired the local church clock. These public clocks used what we call Turret clock movements to operate a series of dials in the church tower.

Most churches generally had a clock in the tower. A turret clock is the technical name for any large exterior public clock. These clocks can be in churches, town halls, banks, stable blocks, pretty much anywhere. We have installed these in homes and shops as a centre piece. Modern day clocks like this may use electric motors to drive the hands but all antique turret clocks have a large mechanical movement, the frame is normally made of cast iron. The movement is driven by large weights and a large pendulum, normally the escapement will beat 1 1/4 seconds or more, this is why you will not normally see seconds hands on these public clocks.  The public only ever normally see the clock dial, which again is normally a cast iron dial, with counter balanced clock hands. The hands will need to be counter balanced to stop them swinging down to the six o’clock position and stopping the clock. For more information e.mail me at [email protected] or visit

The clocks movements can be timepiece or they can normally strike the hour on a single bell. Maintenance is required every 20 years or so and oiling every year. They are built basically along the same lines as a grandfather clock movement but everything is on a larger scale. Information about turret clocks can be found in various places on the internet. The company Smiths of Derby are still in existance and they still make and repair turret clocks today.

The clock pictured on my blog is a famous clock from the town of Chester. Chester a lovely northern city, the clock is called the Eastgate Clock. The mechanism was manufactured by the famous clockmakers Joyce of Whitchurch. Chester’s Eastgate Clock has 4 dials, so the time can be seen from Chesters famous Roman walls and from the streets from the other two sides. This clock is one of the most photographed in the world. I think we all know what the no.1 photographed clock is in the world. In my blog next week we will look at this clock, the one and only Big Ben.


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