London Five’s Unusual Clocks

London Five

Esin Huseyin Header

Posted 05/01/15
By Esin Huseyin

It’s my first post of the year, so I wish you all a Happy New Year! Seeing as this last week had  us counting down from clocks, clock watching at work, and lie ins at Christmas; I thought what better way to bring the New Year in, than with clocks.

Yes, time supposedly originates from London. As well as the fact that we have one of the world’s most famous clock towers – bells, really. So without further delay, here are London’s other famous clocks. Tick. Tock.

Canary Wharf

This business district has a clock installation t hat has been confusing people for years. ‘Six Public Clocks’, yeah we know – original name, is an art installation by Konstantin Grac (1999) that has six double faced clocks, each showing the same time but highlighting one of the numbers from 1-12. At a first glance, many people are led to think that these clocks tell the time around the world, until closer inspection.


Fortnum and Mason

This impressive three tonne clock was hung on the F&M building in 1964, with two figurines that represent the founders Mr Fortnum and Mr Mason. To give you some perspective, the figurines are 4ft tall, and make an appearance once an hour. It is believed that this clock was forged in Whitechapel Bell Foundry, which is where Big Ben was supposedly cast – the clock is made of 18 bells, that chime every 15 minutes.


London Zoo

The Blackburn Pavilion, which is a Victorian tropical bird house, was uplifted in 2008 by Tim Hunkin and the clock that now stands outside the building. Renowned for his quirky clocks, he was given the design brief of illustrating the Victorian attitude to the animal world. Original plans had cages, which the zoo rejected, so now every half an hour you can see an elaborate display of birds flying around the clock, as well as birds disappearing to reveal the name of the pavilion.


Bracken House

This particular building housed the Financial Times at one point, who’s chairman Bernard Bracken, decided to install a clock on the building with an ode to his best friend at the time Winston Churchill. The clock face is made of Churchill’s face in the centre with astronomical dials, Roman numerals, and numbers. There are no hands, instead the Roman numeral dial rotates to reveal the hour in the 12th hour’s position – months and days are also read the same way.


Covent Garden

Tim Hunkin’s makes an appearance again, this time earlier and with an Aquatic Horology clock, or water clock. It was built in 1981 and unfortunately has become stuck in recent years; but the minutes of the hour are represented by a hollow tube that fills with water. As the bells begin to chime, the characters come to life watering window boxes to reveal plastic flowers that grow before our very eyes. We can only assume that Hunkin’s built this clock with a nudge at Covent Garden’s floral history.


So when you walk around the city, look up at the skyline rather than at your wrist, you’ll be surprised what you’ll find. Do you have a favourite clock that I haven’t mentioned? Let me know in the comments below.