The front of the Female Factory building had a clock thought to be one of the oldest public clocks in Australia. The original clock was made by Thwaites and Reed who are best known for their turret-clocks which throughout the 1900s found their way into the clock towers of cities around the globe.
Still a listed company today ‘Thwaites and Reed’ are reputed to be the oldest clock-making company in the world with founder Aynsworth Thwaites first opening the doors in 1740. They became ‘Thwaites and Reed’ in 1816 when John Thwaites formed a partnership with George Jeremiah Reed. Although very successful and owning their own workshop in Clerkenwell, England, it appears they also contracted out a lot of their work to other prominent clockmakers on their behalf - included in this list are names like ‘Barraud and Lund’, Dutton, Ellicot and Earnshaw.
The turret-clock in the original Female Factory building was one of five, all made to the same specifications, which were gifted to the Colony by King George to mark his accession to the Throne. When this clock arrived in Australia they were installed at the following sites:
- First at St Johns cathedral at Parramatta
- Second at St Lukes Liverpool
- Third at St Mathews Windsor
- Fourth at St Davis Hobart now relocated to St Johns Richmond, Tasmania
- Fifth at conmmissariat store, Queens Wharf Parramatta relocated to Female Factory site 5th Sept 1827
A directive made in 5 September 1827 by Governor Darling to Alexander Macleay, directs Mr Robertson to install a clock at Female Factory, currently in the commissariat in Sydney.
Reel 1055 Colonial Secretary Papers
The turret-clock was originally installed at the connasur store, Queens Wharf Parramatta relocated to Female Factory site 5th Sept 1827 and was later relocated to the Male Ward 1, when the dormitory building was demolished between 1885 and 1886.
The mechanism in the Female Factory inscribed quite clearly “Thwaites and Reed, Clerkenwell, London 1821”. In 1991, this clock was rejuvenated/restored with the installation of an electrical automatic winding mechanism costing about $20,000.
In 2020, in its 200th year specialised works have recently been carried out to restore the clock to its former glory. Andrew Markerink of Master Clockmakers, a horologist known for his high-quality restoration, conservation and servicing of significant clocks around the world, was recently engaged by Property & Development, NSW to undertake the restoration. Andrew Markerink carried out almost 400 hours of restoration via a careful approach, to ensure works did not impact on the original mechanisms of the clock. All efforts focused on ensuring the clock look, feel and functions like it did back in 1821.
Neera Sahni, Research Services Leader, Parramatta Heritage Centre, City of Parramatta 2021
- Fred Burgin, The Clock in the Old Church Tower, The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, Saturday 10 August 1932, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/86133029 http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticlePdf/86133029/3?print=n
- Old Clocks, John Tebutt, Windsor and Richmond Gazette, 17 August 1912, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/85847352,
- The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate, 28 November, 1932, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/105926791 http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/printArticlePdf/105926791/3?print=n
- Parramatta North Heritage Core, Community Update 6 , march 2021