Sunday 26th March sees the changing of all UK clocks as they are moved forward one hour to introduce British Summertime. With that in mind, we take a look at the wonderful timepieces which are on display at Newry and Mourne Museum. 

One such item is the longcase clock which is on permanent display in Gallery 2. John Gelston was a clock and watch maker, who was trading in Newry in the mid-1700s before moving to Belfast c. 1779. The longcase clock, made by Gelston, is typical of the type of luxury furnishings which may have been found in an 18th century merchant's house in Newry. 

1840 saw the introduction of the Railway standardised time which involved the synchronisation of different local mean times which created a single standard time. The reason for this was to avoid confusion and collisions as the trains no longer needed to adjust their timepieces for each time zone. The renewed interest in time accuracy proved beneficial to watchmakers around this time. The museum is proud to highlight one of the timepieces of that era, a silver fob watch made by a local business, Henry Marshall and Sons, who were a Watchmaker and Jewellers who operated out of Hill Street in 1893. 

A 1912 slate and marble mantle clock is on display in one of the temporary exhibitions at Newry and Mourne Museum, “The Legacy: Newry 1920-1930”. It was a wedding gift to Thomas Bree, who in 1914 had become Sergeant at the Royal Irish Constabulary (R.I.C) barracks at Hilltown. The Force was disbanded in 1922 and replaced by the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland and by the Garda Siochana in the Irish Free State. Mantle clocks of this type were found in many homes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

While both these timepieces serve as a status symbol or a home staple, the latest temporary exhibition in the museum “Caring in the Community” is showcasing a nurse’s fob watch which operates as a more practical timepiece. Fob watches were traditionally given as a gift to newly qualified nurses and were usually worn on the pocket of a tunic or uniform. The clock face hangs upside down, allowing nurses to view the time whilst keeping hands free for other tasks.

Another timepiece on display on Gallery 3 is a watch belonging to George Walker. George was born in Bulawayo, Rhodesia on 5th June 1905 and began working as a signalman at Warrenpoint Station in 1946 and worked there until the railway closed in 1965. He died in 1973 and is interred in Clonallon Churchyard, Warrenpoint with his wife.

An iconic piece of Newry history is also on permanent display in Newry and Mourne Museum. The clock face from the mid-20th century was one of the four faces of the town clock which originally stood in Margaret Square, Hill Street Newry. It was a staple of the town and was witness to many historic events in Newry such as the protest against the curfew issued by W.W. Topping in 1957 in response to IRA attacks. Large crowds congregated underneath the clock on the first night of curfew to show their displeasure at the curfew.