Saturday 24 August 2019

Hidden History: The Seven Dials Water Clock


Walking through the maze of streets that make up Seven Dials, take a turn towards Shorts Gardens to admire the old Water Clock. With an efflorescence of stores, cafes and cobbled paths it’s no wonder that this fascinating timepiece has been overlooked in recent years. 


Presently, the clock sits above well-known health and wellbeing store, Holland and Barrett. Having been out of service for a number of years, but has been lovingly restored to its former glory, spraying water on the hour, every hour. 

The Water Clock was crafted in 1982 by aquatic horologists Tim Hunkin and Andy Plant. Commissioned by business owner Michael Loftus, the clocks’ main purpose was to attract customers to the Loftus’ wholesale store, giving his shop an edge over his competitors.

During the clocks’ heyday, water would tip from a tank on the roof, ringing bells as it cascaded down the ladder. Following this, six green figures surrounding the clock would fill a separate tank behind the shop signage with their watering cans, allowing plastic flowers to rise up a tube in view for passers-by. Only after all this would the far-left figure swivel around to spray water onto surprised pedestrians on the street. 

Head to 21-23 Shorts Gardens (just outside the entrance to Neal’s Yard) to marvel at this incredible piece of engineering. 


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