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Clocks Magazine Newsletter, December 2016

Aussie town gets steampunk clock

The Blumbergville Clock by Christopher Trotter sits in the heart of Boonah, an hour south-west of Brisbane, Australia.

The idea for the clock was born at a meeting between Christopher Trotter and David Bland, a clock repairer in Boonah. Christopher mentioned that the current town clock apparently didn’t keep time. David was in charge of maintaining the clock and it was due to receive an upgraded movement to fix its problems.

Within a month or so the two men had approached the local councillor with the concept of creating a new town clock, one that would be iconic and draw tourists into the town. The councillor was aware of other public art projects that Christopher had worked on over the last 20 years and within a few months the council was able to fund the project through a grant from the Australian government.

The community was notified of the project and was asked to donate locally sourced discarded objects. This process, it was reasoned, would help give the community a sense of ownership over the timepiece plus telling local stories.

‘I wanted to create a clock with classic lines referencing the German ancestry of the region,’ says Christoper Trotter. ‘Using my architectural design skills, I designed a pedestal that was reminiscent of Old World architecture and grandfather clock design—but with a bit of magic from the Black Forest.’

The main component that forms the clock body is an 1800s riveted steel firebox from a portable steam engine. These steam engines worked within the Boonah region back in the days when it was known as Blumbergville.

‘After some searching I was unable to acquire one locally and placed an ad in an old machinery magazine to see what was available. I ended up purchasing a wreck sourced from Portarlington, Victoria. The portable engine was made by Richard Hornsby and Sons.

‘I wanted visitors to get a sense of the Boonah region as they viewed the clock and so I included a number of animals and features inspired by the local environment—including sounds.’

The clock has two slave dials run from a master clock in a nearby council building. The master clock is synched to a sound module which runs a stationary engine exhaust whistle and plays pre-recorded sounds on the quarter hour, the half hour, the three quarter hour and the hour.

For more information on the Blumbergville Clock contact Christopher Trotter at or visit the website

Open day at West Dean

West Dean College, which runs courses in horological restoration, is holding an Open Day for prospective students on 2nd December. The day will feature an informal presentation on Historic Craft Practices and the Conservation Programme by David Dorning, Head of the School of Conservation, and a tour of the facilities. There will be open workshops throughout the day. For more information contact the Registry Office on + 44 (0) 1243 818 291 or email

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