October 9th, 1873
FROM THE ARCHIVES:Finding the right time in Dublin was not always an easy task, least of all at a railway station, as this mildly acerbic editorial indicates.
– JOE JOYCE
THE ROYAL Dublin Society, having heard many complaints made of the inaccuracy of the time kept by the principal clocks in Dublin, appointed a committee to investigate the matter, and to suggest the means of improvement. The first thing the committee did was to examine a number of clocks on a given day (5th of August), and compare their time with that exhibited by a chronometer which was set by the Dunsink Observatory.
Among the clocks inspected were nine belonging to the Dublin, Wicklow, and Wexford Railway. The Kingstown clock was 33s. fast, the Monkstown 1m. 17s. slow, the Seapoint 1m. 43s. fast, the Sidney parade 3m. 13s. fast, and the Lansdowne road 2m. 28s. fast. The two clocks at the Westland-row Terminus diverged in different directions from the truth, the clock upstairs being 2m. 13s. fast, and the lower one 1m. 2s. slow.
The clock at the General Post Office was tolerably correct, being only 13s. fast. The Ballast Office was 1m. 2s. slow, and was closely followed by its neighbour at Kinahan’s, which was 1m. 7s. slow. The Rathmines Township was 2m. 47s. slow, and Mr. Falkner’s, of Grafton-street, sympathized with the Custom House in being 3m. 47s. slow.
The Alliance Gas Company’s management of their affairs is typified in the time kept by their clock, which was 7m. 13s. astray. The committee also visited seven of our leading clockmakers, and only found one of them more than a minute wrong. Most of the clockmakers adjust their chronometers by the Post Office, which is itself regulated by telegraphic signal from Greenwich Observatory, via Telegraph-street, London.
Mr. Moore, chronometer- maker, of Eden-quay, receives his time from the same source, and is consequently always correct. There are three public clocks in the Amiens-street Terminus, but they were not visited by the committee.
We learn from a correspondent curious in such matters that there is anything but a pedantic uniformity maintained between the clocks in question, no two of the three ever agreeing; while the clocks at the Broadstone and the Kingsbridge Termini not unfrequently give the true time to anybody who will take the trouble of striking an average between them.
The clocks of Trinity College and of the Catholic University received the particular attention of the committee as these seats of learning cultivate astronomy. In both places, however, the instruments were so egregiously wrong that the committee did not bother to record the time shown. The Castle clock is not mentioned in the report, but we understood that it is adjusted to suit the convenience of the officer on guard.
The committee suggests that controlled clocks should be built into walls in some of our principal thoroughfares and should be paid for by the Corporation.