Heritage grant awarded to conserve Barracks clock
The Vulliamy turret clock is the oldest continuously functioning public clock in Australia with aesthetic significance for its sound that has resonated across Queen’s Square since 1819. It has been a significant part of the Hyde Park Barracks story for 200 years, quietly overseeing the development of Sydney from its majestic position in the barracks.
Convict clockmaker James Oatley built the original barracks’ clock in 1819. While the original clock face and hands remain in place to this day, Oatley’s clockwork or ‘movement’ was replaced in the late 1830s with the more powerful mechanism that is still working today. The replacement clock (including weights and bell) was built by Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy of the prestigious London clock-making firm Vulliamy and Sons, around 1837.
The clock is still manually wound every day by staff at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum, so it is unsurprising after 200 years of ticking away that it requires important conservation works. This will include a full restoration of the clock itself, repair works to the clock’s housing, important documentation work, and staff training to ensure its future operation and maintenance for another 200 years.
This highly specialised and painstaking work will take several months to complete. The project is part of our major renewal of the Hyde Park Barracks Museum that will see the site transformed with a rich new, immersive visitor experience. We look forward to having Australia’s oldest public clock keeping time again when the Hyde Park Barracks Museum reopens in December 2019.
Stay tuned for more details on the conservation work and its progress. In the meantime enjoy this short video where Curator Gary Crockett discusses the history of the Hyde Park Barracks clock.