Sunday, 28 December 2014 00:00

Camperdown Clock Tower

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A hidden gem in the “Lakes and Craters” country of Western Victoria is the quaint town of Camperdown. Easily to reach by good roads or by air into Cobden Airport, it is just in land – north – of the Great Ocean Road.


There are 101 good reasons to enjoy a visit to this town – here is one:

Camperdown features a most beautiful Clocktower. A striking and elegant gothic  structure proudly standing tall in the main Elm tree lined street. The proportions of the tower are magnificent and fit well with the streetscape.

The tower stands at 103 feet, an internal staircase provides visitors with a healthy climb to the mechanical clockwork mechanism, which is the same as used in that other well known clocktower - Big Ben.

Built in 1897 as per instructions of the late Mr Manifold, the tower was designed by local architect Michael McCabe, while the flat bed turret clock mechanism was built by Fritz Ziegeler in Little Collins St, Melbourne. The three beautiful sounding bells were cast at the Whitehall Foundry, London by Mears and Stainbank. They have a richness of tone which is a result of the silver added during the casting process.

The clock is powered by gravity. Three separate drive trains each have their own weights suspended on steel cables – requiring a person to ascend the tower every seven days to “wind the clock” this is to actually winch the weights back up the central shaft.  The three drums suspending these three cables and weights form the “gear trains” that power the Quarter Hour Chime; the Hour Chime and the actual Time Keeping mechanism.  Each is wound separately. Over the next 7 days or so the weights descend 60 feet. The three sets of weights have a mass of 279 kilograms. 279 kilos x 20 meters is a simple energy equation for those so inclined….!

The time keeping train is regulated by a large pendulum, via a double 3 legged gravity escapement. This design was created 30 years earlier specifically for Big Ben. Today 117 years after starting, it still runs perfectly, keeping accurate time for all to see and to hear.

However for me the two striking parts to this wonderful part of Camperdown are the actual building – it is so beautiful – and the cogs, gears and mechanical wonder of the mechanism inside.

Do yourself a favour – spend an afternoon wandering around Camperdown.

Last modified on Wednesday, 07 January 2015 10:08

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