The Clock Tower

ClockHistorically, town hall clocks were important to communities because other than the landed gentry, very few families were wealthy enough to own a clock. Men’s pocket watches were expensive heirlooms.

Communities often associated the size and prominence of the clock-as well as the size of the cathedral’s dome-with the size and importance of their town, and consequently the wealth and prestige of the community.

The clock tower was often situated in the north-west corner of the building. This, together with a four-faced alignment with the directions of the compass, helped travellers to orient themselves.

In a consistent reflection of their times, all Australian capital city town halls have a clock. Most, like Perth, are four-faced mechanisms housed in a tower.

Perth Town Hall Clock Fact File

Clock Facts
Clock Mechanism

The Keepers of the Clock

The Ennis family has cared for the Perth Town Hall clock since 1931 or 1932 and incredibly, apart from the cost of necessary preventative maintenance, modifications and repair work, much of the work has been completed as a community service, without charge.

Norman Ennis Snr, born 1902, was the first apprentice to Lewinson’s Jewellers. When he had completed his training he opened Ennis Jewellers. Both Norman’s sons Norman Jnr and Ron, and now his grandson Paul, followed him into the business.

Originally, the clock was manually wound but modifications by Ennis Jewellers in 1956 enabled that task to be completed by means of three electric motors driving through three gearboxes – a huge improvement considering the clock tower is 125 feet high and has 67 ladder-like steps!

Paul Ennis, the current keeper of the Perth Town Hall clock, has been climbing the tower since childhood and remembers clearly the many days that he helped his grandfather and father with their labour of love in looking after the clock.

Every New Year’s Eve since the 1930s, a member of the Ennis family has ensured the clock chimes to the second at midnight. In addition, they make sure it stops at the 11th hour on Remembrance Day (11th November) for the one-minute silence.

Hour Bell