Sunday 5th December

For the first Sunday in advent, we’re bringing the gift of time. The story of the clocks of St Giles’.

A clock has been in St Giles’ since at least 1588 when one was purchased and installed from Lindores Abbey. It was replacedby the one in the photo below in 1722. This clock would control the four faces that the council decided were necessary for St Giles’.

1722 Lindores Abbey Clock Mechanism

Now, picture a clock on a church tower or spire. They are often built into the spire or tower. Unfortunately this was not the case at St Giles’, as the tower had been built without consideration to the desire for a clock 200 years later. So the clock face looked a little like this:

St Giles’ tower with clock face.

By 1912, the clock mechanism needed to be replaced. Richie’s of Edinburgh offered to replace the mechanism for free, but on the condition that the clock faces be removed. All agreed they were rather haphazardly attached and no longer necessary owing to the now-numberous clocks throughout the city, and the wider avaliablity of watches. So the new machanism was fitted.

1912 Richie’s of Edinburgh mechanism

That was the end of the story for 100 years. The clock was hand wound every two or three days (see the winder attached in the above photo) and took a combined 1,200 winds across the three weights to be wound. But, as time moves on so do clocks. No longer must the clock winder climb up the 100 steps to the tower to wind the clock. Now it has an electrical autowind. No longer must the clockwinder check the time is correct, as the clock now has an autoregulator. It should be more accurate than ever!