I have written several times lately about a particular clock (for example, see Researching the Angel Clock) but there are other clocks in Islington. It’s only when you take an interest in the subject that you begin to realize how many there are. This is of course true of nearly every urban centre. What follows is just a selection of what is to be seen in Islington.
This morning I went first to Highbury Fields to see a particular clock. The “Fields” are not as grand as the name suggests, being these days a plain park largely dominated by tennis courts and bordered on one side by the grounds of the above church.
The clock I had come to see, known as the Highbury Clock Tower, stands in a quiet cul-de-sac behind the church. Just a glance would surely tell you that this is a Victoria Jubilee clock. A panel tells us that it was “Presented to the Islington Vestry by Alfred Hutchinson in celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the reign of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria 1897”.
Today, painted in its original maroon and gold livery, it is surmounted by a gilded wind arrow but without the familiar compass directions. Perhaps they were never fitted or decayed and have been removed.
Another panel tells us that the clock was refurbished in 1997 by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Heritage of London Trust, the Highbury Fields Association and Hugh Grover Associates. 13 years later, the paint in beginning to peel and it once again needs attention.
This gilded cartouche of Queen Victoria shows her in familiar imperial pose. It is a period piece and I feel it has a certain nostalgic charm.
I decided to bunny-hop back to the Angel and visit some other clocks on my way.
The first was the clock on the tower of the Union Chapel Congregational Church, Upper Street. Unusually for a church clock, this one stands out at right-angles to the façade. It can at least be seen in both directions along the street. Like the Highbury Clock, this one is in working order and shows the correct time.
Further down the road, opposite Islington Post Office, we find another ecclesiastical clock, at St Mary’s Church. This one is of more traditional form, the dials being flush with the sides of the tower. It has three dials. The ones that look sideways are both the same and seem to be the oldest, with gilded hands and gilded numbers on a black ring. The forward-facing dial is the odd one out, a more recent replacement, no doubt.
Ironically, it is one of the older side-facing dials, looking roughly north, that is the only one working and showing more or less the correct time. As I took this photo, the clock chimed the half-hour. That’s slightly late but in a clock of this age it would be churlish to criticise.
Beside Islington Green, is the clock pictured above. It is on a building currently occupied by a Slug and Lettuce pub but I prefer to call it the Islington Green Clock. It is a rather understatement timepiece, but worthy for all that. Unfortunately, it is not in working order although it does at least still have its hands.
The same cannot be said of this clock, belonging to St Mark’s Church in Mylne Street. Is this timeless clock intended as a symbol of eternity? Probably not. I think it more likely that the clock broke down and decayed and was never repaired, though the dials have obviously been repainted fairly recently.
There are many more public clocks in Islington and you might spot a few if you leaf through my older posts. I have it in mind to visit one of the more famous clock towers in the area and when I do, I will be sure to record my visit and pictures here.