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Bridge Memorial Clock

Tick Tock

Time is an illusion; lunchtime doubly so.{d}

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

Bridge Memorial Clock

The ‘Bridge Clock’, as it is usually known, standing on The Bridge next to The Market, chimes the hour and helps keep things in Jamestown running on time, as it has done for the last years.


The clock was erected in 1930, in memory of those who fell in World War 1. 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 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 and public subscription produced another £80.

The plaque was unveiled in a ceremony on 10th November 1930 by the Acting Governor{4}. The bugler (photograph, below) was Edward Benjamin. 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 is an interesting view of St Helena and the world in 1930.)


Originally in raw stone, the clock tower was first painted in around 1963-5 (if you know exactly when, please contact us). Thereafter is seems to have been painted to match the colours of The Market, though when The Market was painted dark red in the early 2000s the clock remained grey. Today it again matches The Market.

By the late 1980s 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 Quincentenary, 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 until the beginning of 2019 kept remarkably good time, though since then less so. But the clock is no longer the official time standard for St Helena. Most people today use other methods: please see our page Time for some other clocks in Jamestown and a discussion on time-keeping on St Helena. You can hear the clock (right), chiming Midnight in January 2020{5}.

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 bar 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 for some, once a handout had been received, ideally situated right next to the White Horse pub…

Early in 2021, after a period of erratic chiming the Bridge Memorial Clock fell silent. It continued running but was no longer chiming the hours. It spent around two years awaiting spare parts from the UK but on 27th January 2023 it was heard striking the hours, successfully chiming 14:00h. Unfortunately it failed to strike 15:00h, so back to the drawing board… Two days later it seemed to be working. Fingers crossed…

‘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

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

Letter in The Independent, 19th February 2016{6}

Bridge Memorial Clock, February 2016

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?

Bridge Memorial Clock to be repainted
In the following week’s Indy…

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

The clock was indeed repainted in May/June 2016.


{a} Paul McCartney, Hobart, Australia{7}{b} St Helena Photos & Videos{c} Eric Constantine{d} Douglas Adams, in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy


{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} The records are unclear but it was probably Major C A C Lucas OBE, Officer Commanding Troops.{5} We tried for midday, but the staff at Thorpes were loading/unloading their shop, the White Horse had music playing, some people were chatting happily but loudly outside The Market and there was lots of traffic so you could hardly hear the clock!{6} @@RepDis@@{7} Paul’s father was the island’s doctor in the 1960s and Paul accompanied him here. Paul visited St Helena in June 2018 and kindly gave us permission to use these family photographs.