The time when clocks seemed to be on every Sunderland corner

The four-sided clock on The Exchange building.
The four-sided clock on The Exchange building.
0
Have your say

There was a time when there seemed to be one on every corner.

And although those days may be long gone, there are still plenty of reminders of the days when fine and ornate clocks were everywhere.

Robert Gothard winding the town hall clock.

Robert Gothard winding the town hall clock.

Philip Curtis, of the Sunderland Antiquarian Society, takes a look back at the timepieces of Wearside.

It does not seem so long ago that the town centre of Sunderland was full of clocks.

It was an era when they certainly all added to the character and charm of the area.

So let’s take a closer look at them and the impact they had on our city, as well as the ones which still exist and which still gave accurate time.

Mobile phones and wristwatches have all but made them redundant but a little of the character of the old town seems to have been lost with their demise.

Philip Curtis

The main one was the Town Hall clock which was in Fawcett Street in Sunderland, and which chimed out the hours and the quarters.

It definitely had a presence and could be heard all across the town.

Some people claim that, when the wind was blowing in the right direction, its chimes could be heard as far away as Penshaw Monument.

Sadly, it was lost with the demolition of the Town Hall in Sunderland but the memories certainly have remained with Wearsiders.

Mackies Corner clock is no longer working.

Mackies Corner clock is no longer working.

Old habits die hard and for years afterwards, people of the city still looked up into the space where the clock had once been.

They still expected to find out the time.

However, the old Town Hall clock was by far from being the only one to have an effect on the appearance and the sound of the city.

Two other wonderful timepieces are sadly no longer in the town centre but they still deserve a mention.

One is the huge clock which dominated the tower of the north end of the railway station in High Street West. It was demolished in 1966 and we would like to know who remembers it?

And of course, there was the well-loved Echo clock which is no longer in Bridge Street.

There have been a few attempts to replace the Town Hall timepiece.

For a while, a smaller model was erected in the Market Square but that is no longer there.

Other attempts included the large clock on the corner, opposite the south end of the station, but alas this has not been in working order for some years now.

Another one was also put on the side of the new building which was erected on the former Town Hall site and this still can be seen in Fawcett Street.

Unfortunately, this is another which is no longer in working order.

Other broken versions include the two-faced clock which is on Mackie’s Corner, the large one which is attached to the Marks and Spencer’s store in High Street West, Jopling’s clock which is in John Street, and the three-faced clock which can be found above the Courthouse in Keel Square.

Thankfully, there is some good news for anyone who is wanting know the time, as there are still a few public timepieces working in the city.

Perhaps surprisingly, many of them can be found in some of the city’s oldest buildings.

In the east end of Sunderland, there is a three-faced clock on the 1719 Holy Trinity Church and it is right on time.

Around the corner is the city’s only four-faced clock and that is situated on the top of the 1814 Exchange Building. Once again, this is working.

At the other end of the city, all three faces of The Minster clock are also in working order and on time.

There was an era when public clocks were felt necessary but sadly, that is long gone.

These days, mobile phones and wristwatches have all but made them redundant but a little of the character of the old town seems to have been lost with their demise.

What are your memories of the timepieces in Sunderland and which was your favourite?

Was there a one which you used as a meeting point to catch up with friends.

Or is there another aspect of Wearside history that you would like to share with us.

Perhaps there’s an aspect of your family tree that you would like us to publicise, and help with your bid to delve further into your ancestry.

Or maybe there is an event in Sunderland’s history that you would like us to take another look at.

Whatever, your request get in touch. Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk