HL Deb 15 February 1856 vol 140 cc806-8

said, he wished to call attention to the state of the clock tower of the new Houses. That beautiful edifice was rapidly approaching completion; and he concluded that the clock which was to be placed in it was intended to inform the public generally, as well as their Lordships and the Members of the other House, what hour it was. He knew not whether their Lordships had observed the dial-plate put up on one side of the tower; but it certainly appeared to him that if all the dial-plates were to be furnished with the same hieroglyphics which disfigured the face of the dial-plate now put up, the public at large would not be very much the wiser as regarded the time of day, though it might give some information to those of their Lordships who had obtained some knowledge of mediæval art. He would suggest that the figures should be modernised, and made intelligible. Their Lordships could remember that originally their House was furnished with a clock which none of them could make out; but that it was now happily replaced by one of a more intelligible character. He had also heard a rumour—he knew not how far it was well-founded—to the effect that the tower which was approaching completion, and was now nearly roofed in, had been so constructed as to exclude the possibility of the clock or bells being got in. If that were so, it would certainly be a very curious oversight on the part of the architect. He wished also to call the noble Earl (Earl Granville's) attention to the unfinished state of the base of the clock tower, and he trusted it would soon be remedied.


said that, having received notice of his noble Friend's question, he had communicated with Sir Charles Barry on the subject, and had received from him a letter, which he would read. It was as follows:—

"Old Palace Yard, Feb. 15, 1856.

"My dear Lord Granville,—The best answer I can send to your note is the enclosed diagram of the great clock faces, which, I think, you will agree with me will be sufficiently intelligible. The truth is, that the clearness of the numerals is of little importance if their position is clearly defined within some definite form that will duly correspond with the point of the hour hand. The clearness of the division of the minutes is really of the only great importance, and you will see, therefore, that an unusual prominence is given to the minute-hand for that purpose.—Most faithfully yours, "CHARLES BARRY."

As to the other question of the noble Earl, there was no foundation for the rumour—it would be found that the clock and bells would go in perfectly well.


Do I understand that the dial-plate now put up is to correspond with the others?


was understood to reply in the affirmative.

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