Melbourne’s iconic Water Tower Clock has returned to Southern Cross Station following a 50-year absence.
Minister for Transport Terry Mulder last week unveiled the reinstalled clock, which was originally built in 1883, and encouraged Victorians to “meet under the clock.”
“This is a wonderful timepiece and icon for generations of Victorians,” he said. “It was often the first thing arriving passengers saw coming into what was then Spencer Street Station.”
The Water Tower Clock is 130 years old and was an original part of Flinders Street Station. According to Museum Victoria, it was moved to the eastern side of Princess Bridge (now the Federation Square site) in 1902 to make way for the Flinders Street Station building of today.
The clock spent 57 years at Spencer Street Station (now Southern Cross Station), remaining there from 1910 to 1967, when it was purchased by Museum Victoria.
Scienceworks, Spotswood exhibited the clock between 1997 and 2013 until it was decided that it would be restored by a renowned horologist and reinstated at the station thanks to a partnership between Southern Cross Station operators and Public Transport Victoria.
Mulder said the clock would be a new “landmark” for the regional and metropolitan Southern Cross Station, where approximately 35 million passengers pass through the terminal each year.
Matthew Churchwood, senior curator of Museum Victoria, said the clock was hugely significant to early Melbourne.
“It was Melbourne’s first landmark clock and stood over 18 metres high, towering over surrounding buildings and providing the reference time piece for thousands of people in what was then a rapidly expanding city centre,” he said.
Time pieces have been key parts of the architecture and design of the buildings in which they are located.
Since 1859, a 310-kilogram pendulum has swung within the clock of Big Ben Tower.
Locals and tourists continue to meet under the clock at Grand Central Station in New York. Designed by Seth Thomas, that clock is made of brass with with faces made of precious opal. Sotheby’s and Christies recently valued it between $10 and $20 million.
Melbourne also has a series of iconic clocks, including the Royal Arcade’s Gaunt Clock and Melbourne Central’s Fob Watch.
The Gaunt Clock is housed within the historic walls of The Royal Arcade, built in 1869 by Charles Webb. Sitting underneath the glass roof and decorative dome, the clock is guarded by giant statues of mythical creatures GOG and MAGOG.
The clock has chimed each hour since 1892.
Melbourne Central’s giant fob-watch clock was created by Seiko and is made of brass. Each hour, a “marionette” display featuring Australian galahs, cockatoos and two minstrels drops from the bottom of the watch while the song Waltzing Matilda plays.