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Bridge Memorial Clock

Tick Tock

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Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so.
Douglas Adams in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Jamestown’s Bridge Memorial Clock keeps the town running on time…more or less

This page is in indexes: Island Structures, Island Detail

Bridge Memorial Clock Saint Helena Island Info

Below: About the ‘Bridge Clock’‘Standing Tall’Read More

About the ‘Bridge Clock’

The ‘Bridge Clock’, as it is usually known, chimes the hour and helps keep things in Jamestown running on time.

Bridge Memorial Clock plaque Saint Helena Island Info

The clock was erected in 1930, in memory of those who fell in World War 1 (‘The Great War’). It had originally been intended to mount the clock on the Market building, but this was considered impracticable so the tower was constructed instead. The clock itself is by Bensons{1}. The tower was designed by a British Resident Engineer, Captain Mainwaring{2}, and funded from money raised from the public through a charitable committee{3}. They had some £30{4} surplus after the placing of the Island Memorial Cenotaph and decided to use this surplus to erect a memorial clock whose time, by law, should be the official time of the colony. The Government voted £30{4} and public subscription produced another £80{5}.

The plaque was unveilied in a ceremony on 10th November 1930 by the Acting Governor (whose name is not recorded). It was, that day, the Mechanics’ March, and the ceremony was timed to catch the marchers on their return from church. (The Acting Governor’s speech (37.9Kb) is an interesting view of St Helena and the world in 1930.)

Originally in raw stone, the clock tower was painted, we think some time in the late 1960s/early 1970s. (If you know when, please contact us.)

In 1988 its timekeeping was clearly not acceptable, as is evidenced by this letter printed in the St Helena News 3rd June 1988:

One often hears how important it is to preserve our heritage for posterity. However, saving historical monuments for the future need not be at the expense of repairing and maintaining one of them in proper running order for the present time: THE BRIDGE CLOCK.

S.H.C.T. (St Helena Controversial Time). Employer: you are 7 minutes late! Employee: no sir, according to the bridge clock it is exactly 8:30am.

Yours faithfully,
Belfred George

In 2001 it was pressed into service for the Quincentanary, as a ‘countdown clock’ (photo below), though not entirely successfully - first the bulbs failed and there were no replacements available on the island, and secondly a spate of power cuts rendered it inoperable.

In the late 20th Century it stopped working and was not repaired until 2004. It failed again in 2007 due to being infested with pigeons, and was repaired (and made pigeon-proof) in December. It failed yet again and was repaired in 2010. Currently it chimes every hour, all day and all through the night, and keeps remarkably good time. But the clock is no longer the official time standard for St Helena. Most people today use other methods: please see our Time page for some other clocks in Jamestown and a discussion on time-keeping on St Helena.

As one of the pictures (below) shows, the Bridge Memorial Clock also makes a useful seat - especially for clients of the White Horse, who can’t smoke inside the pub due to the island’s smoking regulations. Dedicated drinkers also assemble there to wait for the White Horse to open. On event days quite a crowd can gather (below). The term ‘Sitting on the clock’ is a local reference to unemployment; it was where people gathered while looking for work or handouts from the Poor Society. And also, once a handout had been received, ideally situated right next to the White Horse pub…

In the 1940s unpainted Saint Helena Island Info Bridge Memorial Clock
In the 1940s, unpainted

In 1961 unpainted Saint Helena Island Info Bridge Memorial Clock
In 1961, unpainted

In 1963 unpainted Saint Helena Island Info Bridge Memorial Clock
In 1963, unpainted

1970s painted Saint Helena Island Info Bridge Memorial Clock
1970s, painted

For the Quincentenary Saint Helena Island Info Bridge Memorial Clock
For the Quincentenary

2009 Saint Helena Island Info Bridge Memorial Clock
2009

At Christmas Saint Helena Island Info Bridge Memorial Clock
At Christmas

Bridge Memorial Clock and crowd Saint Helena Island Info
Bridge Memorial Clock and crowd

‘Standing Tall’

By Patricia Henry, published in Speaking Saint.

Standing still, proud and tall,
Hands gently caressing every move,
Beneath her feet they climb and slumber.

She gazes, lovingly towards the hills,
But still she carries on,
Her work on earth is never done.

As darkness, gathers all around,
And folks sit at her feet to talk,
This wonderful lady, listened intently,
To worries great and small.

Many a secret, she has heard
Many a sorrowful face
Many the squeal of a happy child
This wonderful old,
Bridge clock.

Read More

More stories on our page Read articles about St Helena.

Article: Please, Please, Give Me A Lick of Paint

Letter in the St Helena Independent 19th February 2016{6}

Bridge Memorial Clock February 2016 Saint Helena Island Info

Enterprise St Helena is spending a lot of money to renovate and beautify the Market in Jamestown. As long as it is kept clean in the future it will look really nice and is brightening up the Market Square.

But, how about the monument next to it, the ‘Bridge Clock’. It will look even shabbier than before, standing next to the newly decorated Market. There must be some paint left over somewhere to be able put a new coat on this St Helenian icon. It has the same colour scheme as the Market and it would only take a couple of fellas a few hours to fix it up. I hope that St Helena is showing its famous ‘Community Spirit’ and get this sorted.

Peter Williams is doing a brilliant job in getting the clock going, it can’t be too hard to give the exterior a quick overhaul. Who is up for it?

It was announced the following Monday that the clock would indeed be repainted:

Bridge Memorial Clock to be repainted Saint Helena Island Info
In the following week’s Indy…

The clock was indeed repainted in May/June 2016.

Closing Humour Saint Helena Island Info Bridge Memorial Clock

Laugh at funny Bridge Memorial Clock humour LOL Saint Helena Island Info


Footnotes:

{1} J.W. Benson Ltd was a highly regarded London watch/clockmakers and gold/silversmiths who traded between 1847 and 1973. More at www.cjbalm.com/watches/watch-benson-history.htm.

{2} No relation to the (fictional) character in Dad’s Army.

{3} Consisting of Mr. John Thorpe, Mr. Charles Jameson and Mr. Edward Constantine.

{4}

{5}

{6} Reproduced for educational non-commercial use only; all copyrights are acknowledged.



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