Striking Thirteen – a Pictorial Blog about Clocks
The author Eric Arthur Blair, better known as George Orwell, is well known for the two books ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘Nineteen Eighty-four.’ His dystopian novel starts, normally called ‘1984’ starts with these lines.
It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.
When these lines were written in 1948 its setting was far in the future so perhaps his unusual clocks just made this clear to his readers.
I will be talking of the clocks of today when clock faces generally just go up to twelve! I always planned to a blog about clocks although at first I had just three in mind from the centre of Cheltenham. It will be mostly pictures.
The House of Fraser has a department store that continues to keep its old name of Cavendish House.
Marks and Spencer has also been with us for as long as I can remember. Its clock is high up and not so impressive.
Martin & Co. have a jewellery shop in the Promenade, almost opposite Cavendish House. Their prominent clock show their sponsorship links to Rolex watches.
I didn’t stop at three. I looked around a big and found a few more clocks.
This one is by the taxi rank in Royal Well Road just behind the Municipal Offices.
One of my favourite sights when I visit Newnham-on-Severn is this clock tower.
Two more that you may miss if you don’t look up in central Cheltenham.
Clocks on churches are always impressive.
Two more buildings that may be familiar to Cheltonians. The tower is part of the remnants of a listed building whose wall appears in my Walls blog. The other one is one of several old buildings that make up Cheltenham Ladies College.
You will recognize this one by the post boxes at our main sorting office.
Three quite large plain modern clocks.
Now some from my travels – Cirencester. Bournemouth and Oxford.
World’s Oldest Clock
You can read about this clock in Salisbury Cathedral in my blog about Bournemouth.
It may be the oldest in the World but its provenance is uncertain.
[Yes, I know that Salisbury isn’t strictly part of Bournemouth. Read the blog to find out!]
I’m cheating a bit for the next few pictures.
After some clocks and watches for sale there is picture of a large sundial on a wall. The last one at the entrance to some modern residential buildings is a sign to mark the proximity of one of Cheltenham’s now long dead stations – St James Station. It isn’t a clock. It always shows five o’clock!
As usual I have save something special for the end of my blog.
The Regent Arcade in Cheltenham features a large automatic clock designed by Kit Williams.
All that Wikipedia would tell me is that:
‘In the United Kingdom, Kit Williams produced a series of large automaton clocks for a handful of British shopping centres, featuring frogs, ducks and fish.’
Our one at Cheltenham does many things when it chimes to mark the hour. (OK, it doesn’t ring bells. It plays ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.’ You will see why in a minute.) The large wheel at the top rotates and we have an egg-laying bird, a mouse and a snake.
The most familiar action, especially for visiting children, is the large goldfish underneath that turns and blows bubbles.
I was lucky to get these pictures. The next time I visited this was all I could see as the clock undergoes repair and maintenance.