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Clock and Watchmakers

In 1840 the citizens of Port Phillip raised £65 to purchase a reliable public clock. Clock and watchmakers account for four entries in Kerr's Melbourne Almanac 1841, two in Queen Street and two in Collins Street. Mr Ley of Queen Street had the foresight to bring a clock with him. The 1851 Directory listed 17 clock and watchmakers. This number had more than doubled by 1854. Melbourne's best-known clockmaker, Thomas Gaunt, arrived c. 1856. His premises were at 5 Little Bourke Street East until December 1869 when he moved to new premises in the western front of the Royal Arcade. In July 1870 Gaunt proposed to manufacture, on approval, a clock for the new Melbourne Town Hall, wishing to prove that the clock could be made in the Colony by local technicians. While the Melbourne Town Hall clock was supplied by a London maker, Gaunt made many of Melbourne's public clocks including the clocks for the Hotham and Emerald Hill town halls, and was awarded a Gold Medal for Turret Clocks at the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880. German-born Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Ziegler, known as 'Fritz', arrived in Melbourne in 1883. He was employed by Henry Newman, Elizabeth Street, before setting up business in Little Collins Street. For over 40 years he made public clocks, including the Gaunt clock in the Royal Arcade and the Flinders Street Station clock. In 1909 he was referred to as 'the only man in the Commonwealth who manufactured turret clocks'. Other than public clocks, few clocks or watches were actually made in Melbourne. A Gaunt advertisement of 1875 indicated that he was 'The only watch manufacturer in the Australian Colonies'. Watches and clocks were imported, complete or in component form, to be assembled, retailed and repaired by local clock and watchmakers.

Judy Hose

See also

Rainbow Alley