Family time: the Hyde Park Barracks clock


Recently we had a visitor from the UK, Chris Vulliamy, who is a direct descendant of Benjamin Vulliamy (1747 - 1811) - the designer of the Hyde Park Barracks clock.

Chris greatly appreciated the rare opportunity to both see the Vulliamy clock up close and to participate in the actual winding of the clock.

I can confirm that the weight for the strike is extremely heavy! It was an absolute pleasure to see and wind the clock made by my ancestors. Not only was this quite an emotional moment but also the high point of my visit to Sydney.

He was impressed with the condition of the clock stating:

"It is remarkable and a credit that the clock has survived so many changes to the Barracks and it is a delight to see it in such a good working condition as well as hear the hourly strike echoing clearly down Macquarie Street above the noise of traffic. I am so pleased that its origins were discovered and I am confident it will be treasured for many generations to come.”

Chris informed us that there were three generations of Vulliamy clockmakers who lived and worked from their base in Pall Mall, London. Francois Justin Vulliamy (1712-1797) was born in Oulens in Switzerland and came to London in the mid 1730s. He went into business with Benjamin Gray who was already a well-established watchmaker and who also married Gray's daughter.

Their eldest son was Benjamin Vulliamy (1747 - 1811) – Chris’s great, great, great grandfather - who was renowned for his designs of ornamental clocks. He was succeeded by his eldest son and the third clockmaker, Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy (1780- 1854) who designed many public clocks and who would have been responsible for the Hyde Park Barracks clock. 

The Vulliamy firm was well known for the high quality of their clocks and their premises were conveniently close to St James Palace which may have facilitated their enjoyment of Royal patronage. Their portraits and examples of their work can now be seen in the Horology Museum in the Science Museum in London.


About the Author

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Frances Feasey
Visitor Services Assistant
Frances is the visitor services assistant for the Macquarie Street Portfolio.
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