Wall clock originally installed in the Long Room of the Customs House, Flinders Street, Melbourne in 1877.

Clock made by Thomas Gaunt, Melbourne. The clock was controlled by electrical impulse from Melbourne Observatory.

Physical Description

Large wall clock, cedar drop dial case, cast-iron bezel hinged at top. Weight driven; dead-beat escapement. Pendulum bob contains an electromagnet to enable electrical control from a distance. Electrical terminals on top of clock case.


This clock was the main public clock in the Long Room of the Customs House, Melbourne, from 1877. The Customs House, partially finished in 1858 had been extended and completed in 1876. The clock regulated the work of the Customs officers and the public who came to the Long Room, which was the heart of Melbourne's trade for over 100 years. It was a noisy, bustling place, where merchants and customs agents came to pay duty on imported goods. On busy days, up to 30 customs officers and 100 customers would be processing forms.

The clock is also significant for being one of nine public clocks controlled by electrical impulse form Melbourne Observatory, ensuring that the clock was kept precisely to official Observatory Time. Government Astronomer Robert Ellery had first installed electrical control of public clocks in 1870-1871, with control by telegraph wires to clocks at Gaunt's jewellers in Royal Arcade, Hobsons Bay and Spencer Street railways stations. Ellery noted in his Annual Report of the Government Astronomer for the year ended 22nd May 1877, that he was about to connect a clock in the Long Room of the Customs House, Melbourne, to Observatory time, through transmission of an electrical signal. (The Observatory had already connected 8 other public clocks.)

The clock was made by eminent Melbourne jeweller and clockmaker Thomas Gaunt, who worked closely with Ellery in the design of the controlled public clocks. Gaunt's own store was one of the first to have a clock controlled by the Observatory.

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