Thursday, October 02, 2014

Meet you under the clocks

The clocks used to be hand adjusted by a man with a stick to the departure time of the next train on various train lines. These are the internal clocks. On the outside is another set the same, or rather each is a double sided clock.




Here you can see them from the outside. There are a few more at an adjacent and smaller arched entrance. As I said, a man with a long stick would adjust the clocks to the next departure time for each line. Also there were drop down signs which he could also be brought down or pushed up out of sight, such as in addition to the time for the next train, a drop down sign might say, 'Express South Yarra to Caulfield' or 'Not stopping East Richmond'. This feature has been removed. I also have a vague idea a platform number was shown. I can't quite recall.

Wikipedia tells me the clocks were imported from England and first installed in the 1860s. The clocks were put into storage when the original station was demolished in 1904 and put back in 1910 when the station as we know it was completed.

The clocks were again removed in 1983 when the station was undergoing a renovation, with the intention of them being replaced by digital displays, but a public outcry saw the clocks converted to electric operation and controlled from a central point.



Arranging a meeting place at a busy railway station can be fraught, but for us it is so easy. "Meet you under the clocks", means you will be on the steps and under the clocks waiting for the person you are meeting, or vice versa. I have met a few people 'under the clocks' at times. A consequence of the clocks being a meeting place, there are always people sitting on the steps and waiting. I don't know if the railway people move them on or not, but there is no real harm in off peak times. It can look bad though, as if people are loitering, and perhaps some do.


The clocks are an anachronism in the year 2014, but you know, I reckon in fifty years time the above scene will be much the same. The people may look quite different and wear different clothes, but the clocks, the station fa├žade and the steps will be just the same. At the current rate of improvement for Melbourne's train system, the trains may well be very much the same too.

23 comments:

  1. Meet you under the clocks stirred up so many memories. And part of me hopes that in fifty years that scene is much the same...

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    1. EC, it would be a very brave government that allowed the facade to be altered. You have met under these clocks?

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    2. Many, many years ago. And it has to be thirty years since I was last in Melbourne. At least.

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    3. Hmm, Melbourne is quite different now but I changes in Canberra may have been more dramatic.

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  2. Nice place for dating. I love your clocks

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    1. Gosia, I am sure a lot of that happens.

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  3. Incredible to think that the Japanese fast train has just celebrated its fiftieth birthday.

    There is no indication that Australia might join the fast train club in the next fifty years.

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    1. Victor, there is an amusing Japanese bureaucratic anecdote in reference to the beginning of the Japanese fast train, which I may get around to recounting.

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  4. "Meet you under the clocks", such an easy place to remember and find someone. I imagine that some would loiter on those steps, by why not? it's a great place to observe people. Adelaide has similar meeting places that everyone knows about.

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    1. River, maybe 'meet you in the mall'? But where in the mall? 'Meet you at the pigs in the mall?'

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    2. Most popular is 'meet you at the balls', everyone, absolutely everyone knows about the Mall's Balls! Before the big silver balls were installed a common meeting place was The Beehive Corner, on the corner of Rundle Mall and King William Street, but in those days the mall was just Rundle Street and buses and cars were still travelling through. Trams too I think, way back then. It only became a Mall in the 70s. And now that I've mentioned the balls, maybe I won't bother doing a post about it.

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    3. No River. Do write a post about the balls. I am quite fascinated by balls.

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  5. I love this bit of Melbourne!

    Of course there was a public outcry when the clocks were threatened with destruction. Who would want to look a modern digital display on the outside of gorgeous Edwardian architecture!!!! Architecture and its decorative bits and pieces need to be integrated.

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    1. Hels, while Bourke and Swanston might be seen as the centre of the city, this corner is really a slightly off centre hub. Any money spent on the station facade is an investment in tourism. It is truly a great corner and nothing should endanger it.

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  6. I am fond of these clocks, I guess most Melburnians are. I hope they never change.

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    1. Fen, I hope we will fight if they ever are under threat.

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  7. Somethings need to be kept the same, it's heritage I expect.

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    1. WA, very much so heritage. We can't keep it all, but hopefully the best.

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  8. Isnt there an upgrade to the side of the station underway at the moment. I recall some design competition.

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    1. Allan, there is something happening along the river bank side, but I am not sure what. Putting the St Kilda/Port Melbourne platform back??? Nothing will come of the competition. Shocking waste of money.

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  9. I love your old Flinders Station Andrew, our new station is so modern.. Fremantle train station is nice though, still original. Wonder what your 'write-up' will be like after you've tried and tested our trains :)

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    1. Grace, from what I have heard, your system is pretty good. I must google Fremantle Station to see what it looks like.

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    2. I did. Very nice but its a pity about the fence in front. I think something better could be done.

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