Object Details

Jubilee Clock Tower

Browse information by:
Location
Makers
General Information
Classification
Object Parts
Object Condition
History
References
Photographs

Download this information in PDF

See 3D model



Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright for Photograph:

Creative Commons

Location

Street:Queens Road / West Street
Town:Brighton
Parish:Brighton
Council:Brighton & Hove City Council
County:East Sussex
Postcode:BN1
Location on Google Map
Object setting:Road or Wayside
Access is:Public
Location note:The crossroads of Queens & Dyke Roads with West & North Streets
In the AZ book:East Sussex
Page:162
Grid reference:D7
The A-Z books used are A-Z East Sussex and A-Z West Sussex (Editions 1A 2005). Geographers' A-Z Map Company Ltd. Sevenoaks.
OS Reference:TQ3004

back to top

Makers

Company/Group :J & T Chappell, London and Brighton
     Role:Builder
Name : John Johnson
     Role:Designer
Company/Group :Gillett and Johnston of Croydon
     Role:Clockmaker
Company/Group :J.M. Whitehead & Sons Ltd.
     Role:Stonemason

back to top

General Information

Commissioned by: James Willing, local advertising contractor
Construction period:Foundation stone laid 20 January 1888
Installation date:1888
Unveiling date:28/06/1888
Work is:Extant
Owner custodian:Brighton & Hove City Council
Object listing:Grade II: of special interest warranting every effort to preserve them
Listing date:26/08/1999
Description:In the Baroque Classical style, it stands 75 feet on a pink / red granite base. Projecting from each side of the four angles of the base, where the stonework is relieved by a deep band of polished granite, are platforms each supporting a lifesize allegorical statue of one of the four seasons. From the platforms rise polished red granite pillars, some standing out away from the body of the tower and others embedded at the four angles. All of the columns have carved capitals, supporting sculpted cornices and pediments. The pediments have sculpted pairs of ‘Brighton dolphins’, each pair flanking a projected prow of a boat, on the sides of which are inscribed directions to the sea, Kemptown, Hove and the station. Between the columns above the base are medallions with enamelled portraits of Queen Victoria, facing to the north, her late husband, Prince Albert, facing to the south, her son, Edward Prince of Wales, facing east and his wife, Princess Alexandra, facing west. The upper part of the tower has small coloured panels of enamelled iron with a carved cornice. The four clock faces are made of opal glass and 5 feet in diameter. Above the clocks is a copper cupola then a 16 foot mast at the base of which is a gilt-copper sphere and weather vane.
Iconographical description:There are four female statues around the lower part of the tower, one at each corner. They represent the four seasons. The dolphins on the pediments reference the Brighton coat of arms.
Inscription:On a bronze plaque underneath the portrait of Queen Victoria:

THIS CLOCK TOWER
WAS PRESENTED TO THE PEOPLE OF BRIGHTON
IN COMMEMORATION OF THE
JUBILEE YEAR OF THE REIGN OF
HER MAJESTY QUEEN VICTORIA
BY
JAMES WILLING ESQRE.
THE MEMORIAL STONE WAS LAID BY
THE RIGHT HON. SIR ARTHUR OTWAY BART.
ON THE 20TH DAY OF JANUARY 1888
EDWARD MARTIN. MAYOR.
FRANCIS J. TILLSTONE. TOWN CLERK
JOHN JOHNSON ARCHITECT J.T. CHAPPELL BUILDER

back to top

Classification

Categories:Functional, Roadside / Wayside, Commemorative, Architectural
Object type1:Building
     Object subtype1:Clock tower
Subject type1:Figurative
     Subject subtype1:Seated
Subject type2:Allegorical
     Subject subtype1:Full-length
Subject type3:Portrait
     Subject subtype1:Head

back to top

Object Parts

Part 1:Entire clock tower
     Material:Granite and Portland stone
     Height (cm):2316
Part 2:Portraits x 4
     Material:Enamel
Part 3:Sphere (Time-ball)
     Material:Gilt copper
Part 4:Base
     Material:Aberdeen Red granite (polished)
Part 5:Seated statues x 4
     Material:Portland stone

back to top

Object Condition

Overall condition:Good
Risk assessment:No known risk
Condition 1 of type:Structural
     More details:Restored 2002
Condition 2 of type:Vandalism
     More details:Restored 2002
Condition 3 of type:Surface
     More details:Restored 2002
Date of on-site inspection:11/04/2007

back to top

History

History: The sphere is a time-ball, designed by Magnus Volk and controlled by landline from Greenwich Observatory. The ball rose hydraulically up the mast and fell on the hour but functioned only for a few years and was stopped following complaints about the noise. The opening ceremony is reported in the Brighton Gazette of 30 June 1888.

Clock mechanism
The mechanism has a double 3-legged gravity escapement. The escapement is superior to any other design - the amount of force imparted to the pendulum is always the same, regardless of the state of the wind. The pendulum is 15ft long, compensated with iron tubes, so arranged that variance of temperature is allowed for.
The bob at the foot of the pendulum weighs 2 ½ cwt. The original motive power was by one 600 cwt. iron weight, suspended by lines of twisted steel.
There are four dials - each 5ft in diameter. Opal glasses (as above) were used for the dials, because of the good diffusion of light. All the wheels within the clock are of solid gunmetal, turned and polished. The main wheel measures 14'' in diameter.
Currently, the 'falling ball' mechanism to the top of the tower has been re-designed and manufactured to accommodate the 100 kgm. copper ball that will rise up the mast at approximately 8 to 10 minutes before each hour. On each hour the ball will fall to visually simulate an hour 'gun'
Originally, the idea of this was for the use of Captains and seafarers in earlier years, so that they could synchronise their chronometers with the Greenwich Observatory Clock's 1 o'clock 'gun'.
Each day, the ball on the Greenwich Clock would rise up the mast and drop precisely at 1 o'clock. This enabled Captains sailing their ships from the Pool of London to set their chronometers precisely. Precise time was vital for accurate navigation during their weeks at sea.
(Taken from the Frost Brothers of Worthing’s website - http://www.frostbros.com/Contract/Jubilee.html. They currently hold the contract for maintaining the clock)

Built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee of 1887. The foundation stone was laid by Sir Arthur Otway Bart.on 20 January 1888, the seventieth birthday of James Willing, who gifted the clock tower to the town. It cost £2000. The use of opal glass or the clock faces allowed illumination by gas jets at night. These switched on and off automatically. A highly detailed description of the clock workings can be found in the newspaper article. John Willing, who donated the clock tower carried out the unveiling in the presence of the Mayor and other dignitaries; 'At the invitation of Mr. Willing, some two hundred guests, many of whom weer ladies, assembled in the reserved enclosure surrounding the Tower shortly before one o'clock. The crowd outside was enormous, vehicular traffic in the Quadrant being almost blocked…A minute or so before the appointed hour the large gilt time-ball above the tower commenced to rise. It was intended that with its fall the flags which hid from view the lower portion of the structure should give way. This end, however, was not successfully attained, the pleasing duty of unveiling the tower being thus left to Mr. Willing himself, who attacked the practical task with vigour and amidst the vociferous cheers of the assembled guests and the populace.' Reverend L.D. Freeman initiated the prayers asking 'May the contemplation of it (the Clock Tower) fill our hearts with gratitude to Thee for the unnumbered mercies we have enjoyed in this benificent reign, and make us exclaim in loyalty and love 'God Bless The Queen'. James Willing then presented the Mayor with the key to the tower. In his speech, and to loud applause, the Mayor said: '..The name of Willing will entwine itself around this clock tower and when you turning to the (?) and I, sir, have passed away, and this generation has gone, the generations yet to come will look upon this glorious memorial with pride and pleasure, and, bringing their minds back to this period; will feel additionally proud to dwell in a town where a gentleman of the magnificence and generosity of Mr Willing lived in the 19th century.' Medals that commemorated the inauguration event were handed out to the general public. A celebratory luncheon, presided over by James Willing Jun. and attended by all the dignitaries, including Magnus Volk, (details in newspaper article) was then held in The Dome, where Mr. Gates' band provided the music. Sir Soners Vine, proposing a toast said that, '…the structure would serve a three-fold pupose - it would commemorate an important and memorable period in English history; it would be an embellishment to the town, and it would render a service beyond all description to anxious individuals travelling to town', to which there was great applause. James Willing was presented with a silver centrepiece that was inscribed: 'Presented to James Willing Esq. by the Corporation of Brighton, as a mark of their esteem on the occasion of his dedicating to the use of the inhabitants the handsome Clock Tower erected by him in the town in commemoration of the Jubilee year of the reign of Queen Victoria…June 28th 1888 - EDWARD MARTIN, Mayor; FRANCIS J.TILLSTONE, Town Clerk.'
(Brighton Gazette & Sussex Telegraph 30/06/1888)

The clock tower is described by Nicholas Pevsner as ‘worthless’ ( Nairn, I. & Pevsner, N. [2003]. ‘The Buildings of England: Sussex’.) but the people of Brighton have retained a nostalgic affection for the clock and it represents the centre of modern Brighton. The clock tower was restored in 2002.

Sir Arthur Otway (1822 – 1891)
Director of the Brighton Railway and of the Newhaven Harbour; son of Sir Robert, Admiral Otway, a close personal friend of William IV, and who was associated with the beginning of Brighton as a modern resort.

The commemorative medals that were handed out to spectators had, on one side: ‘a representation of the tower, with the inscription “Willings Clock Tower”. On the other side, encircled by “Presented to the town of Brighton 1887” was a crown and quartered shield bearing the emblems of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales’.
(Brighton Herald. Saturday 30 June 1887
Hard archive file:Yes

back to top

References

Source 1 :
     Title:'The Buildings of England: Sussex'
     Type:Book
     Author:Nairn, Ian. Pevsner, Nikolaus.
     Edition:Revised
     Date:00/00/2003
     Page:445
     Publisher:Yale University Press; New Haven and London.

Source 2 :
     Title:Brighton Gazette & Sussex Telegraph
     Article:'The Opening of the Jubilee Clock Tower'
     Type:Newspaper
     Date:30/06/1888
     Page:5


Further information:
http://www.frostbros.com/Contract/Jubilee.html

back to top

Photographs





Date: 11/04/2007
Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons




Date: 11/04/2007
Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons




Date: 11/04/2007
Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons




Date: 11/04/2007
Author: Anthony McIntosh
Copyright: Creative Commons

back to top