The Cromwell Clock

Fast away the old year passes, falalalalalalalala!
(Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly)

As the new year arrives, time becomes the focus of our attention. While time is but a construct – any day can be the start of a new year, New Year’s Day holds a special meaning for many people. It is a time to rethink where we are, where we have been and where we are going. It is also a time to remember family and friends who are still with us and those who have passed on. It is a time to remember “Auld Lang Syne”.

Time and time keeping move to the fore and so this issue our “Off the Beaten Path” is about clocks. One is forced to wonder what a world would be like without clocks. How could we arrange to meet our friends at 4:15 if there were no clocks? How did people in the past ever manage without them? Life must have run to the beat of a very different drummer, rather than the ticking of a clock. The movement of the skies and the objects seen there would have been the major guide to the year as would have been the appearance of different plants and crops as the seasons changed.

Clocks occur in a startling variety and size – Big Ben which runs fast from the hour to the half hour, and slow from the half to the hour because of the weight of the hand. Cuckoo clocks with their elaborate mechanisms which causes the little bird to pop out of the clock and “cuckoo” the correct number of times on the hour – and often once on the half hour and occasionally on the quarter hour making it a necessity to find a way to constrain the bird before it drove everyone in the house “cuckoo”. Of course the complex mechanisms in clocks continued to develop until some elaborate clocks were able to produce a virtual pageant on the hour as is the case with the millennium clock which is to be found in Edinburgh in the National Museum on Chambers Street. A great deal can be learned about the clock tower at this link


The Millennium Clock Tower

The National Museum is not quite “Off the Beaten Path” however, so we have a different clock for you this issue: The Cromwell Clock Tower. This clock is located away from the main tourist run from Glasgow to Edinburgh. It is found in a city famous for many other things including the legendary Loch Ness Monster – Inverness.

Cromwell’s clock tower is near the harbor in Inverness. It was a part of Cromwell’s citadel built in 1652 and torn down in 1661. Cromwell was involved in what has been thought of by some historians as an almost genocidal persecution of Catholics in both Ireland and Scotland.

The clock is about a mile from the Inverness train station. Leave the station and turn right on Academy Street, which becomes Chapel Street. Bear right about the round-a-bout to Shore Street (you will be passing the A82 Motorway at the round-a-bout). Continue along Shore Street which will become Cromwell Road. The clock tower is on the right side of the street across from Munro’s.