Guinness Clock

Photographed c1950s

By Stefan Bremner-Morris

I took this picture about 45 years ago on holiday in Brighton, but I cannot for the life of me think why! I had no particular interest in Guinness at the time, so I suppose it was just the novelty. If I remember correctly the machine made some kinetic movements at various times, possibly on the hour. This may account for the small crowd in their colourful summer wear waiting in anticipation. I think the Toucan must have had quite a suntan at the end of the season!

Photo:The Guinness Clock

The Guinness Clock

From the private collection of Stefan Bremner-Morris

This page was added on 23/05/2009.
Comments about this page

Hi Stefan: Amazing picture and the first I have seen of this version of the clock. I believe this may be the re-designed travelling clock from 1959 onwards. See my piece on the site for a brief history of the Guinness clocks. Regards Andy

By Andy Grant (23/05/2009)

Andy: I read your entry--my photo has been 'pending' 'till I did so! I was leaning on the rail chatting to my father, and it may have been that I had come to the end of a roll that caused me to take the shot before returning to London. It was fortunate that the boats in the background gave a diagonal to lead the eye across the picture. It was done very quickly, I recall. I suppose the machine became scrap shortly after...It would have been very much a collector's item these days!!

By Stefan Bremner-Morris (24/05/2009)

I had entirely forgotten this until I saw the picture.  How amazing to see it again after all these years.

By Ed Castle-Herbert (02/06/2009)

I have a very short (19 seconds) video clip of this clock working. No sound and was probably converted from a movie camera.

By Mike (11/06/2009)

Mike, will it work on this site? Would it be possible for you to put it on another, if not? Cheers.

By Stefan Bremner-Morris (14/06/2009)

Have sent the clip to Jennifer about 22 June, so she can try to make it available.

By Mike (03/08/2009)

Terrific Mike! Waiting in anticipation.

By Stefan Bremner-Morris (15/08/2009)

Wow! The first clear photo I have ever seen of the 'Guinness Time Piece'. Thank-you, I have been looking for ages. I have such clear memories of this version from Southend in the early 60s. On the left is the straw umbrella which I think moved up and down to reveal the head of the ostrich. It scared the hell out of me as it's eyes appeared to be looking straight down at me!

By Dee Hayward (01/09/2009)

Tremendous photo! This is the version of the clock that I remember from around 1961-62 when it was erected on the front near the bottom of East Street each summer. Here is a description of it from the Guinness Collectors Club website: "On June 9th 1959 another Guinness Clock appeared called the Guinness Time Piece (which also became known as the Guinness Clock). This was an even more elaborate mechanical contraption, built in three sections, weighing four tons, and mounted on the back of a trailer for easy transportation. It was designed by John Lansdell and Willy Szoomanski and manufactured by F.B.Elcom Ltd. As with the original Guinness Clocks, every quarter of an hour brought a frenzied burst of activity from an assortment of Guinness animals and their keeper accompanied by fairground music. In the centre a revolving stage with four set pieces showed Guinness in every season of the year and to the right in front of the caravan the ever-harassed keeper is chased by various animals from door to door. At first the keeper has the bottle of Guinness, then a few moments later, they all reappear, now running in the other direction, with the brown bear in front with the bottle being chased by the keeper. It was first exhibited at the Guinness Bicentenary Garden Party that summer then set off on its travels via Battersea Pleasure Gardens where it stayed for a fortnight. Since the Clocks' mechanism could easily be affected by wind, it was necessary to have an electrician standing by. He would also be responsible for counting the visitors to the clock. Changing times were soon to doom these travelling mechanical wonders. Guinness no longer used the animals in its advertisements, and spare parts for the clocks became difficult to obtain. They were finally withdrawn in October 1966 and sent for scrap - a sad end to a much-loved and unique form of Guinness advertising." I recall myself and my younger sister being entranced by the clock, so that we would hang around for ages waiting for it to go off time after time. I also recall that in its second year at Brighton one of the animals in the procession had lost its head, and there was just a bare rod going up and down. As it says above, spare parts were hard to obtain! For more information on this and the preceding Guinness clock, visit www.guinntiques.com/festival_clock/.

By Len Liechti (01/02/2010)

What a wonderful photo. One of these Guinness Timepieces came over to Jersey in the early 1960s. My sister and I must have spent a total of many hours watching it in Millbrook Park that summer. It took about 5 mins to complete each performance, so it was only 10 mins or so to wait till the next one. The tune that played during the performance was that of an old song which we knew of as "Some folks do". The straw umbrella did indeed move up to reveal the ostrich's head on a long neck. The striped domes on the caravan also rose up to reveal an animal hanging from each pole. I'm sure was the koala bear was one of them. The doors of the little bay in the middle of the caravan used to swing open and Mr Punch (I think) popped out. It was an extraordinary piece of engineering. Sometimes the thing would go wrong and some of it would go out of synch. A man would come and work on it. My sister and I would climb through the bushes behind to watch. An open door at the rear would reveal a small room crammed floor to ceiling with wires and electrical connections. It must have an early electronic wonder of its time. And quite amazing that Guinness spent so much on an indirect piece of advertising. Perhaps it was a precursor to some of the sophisticated TV ads they do today. There is one thing I am curious about. There seemed to be a bit of a fad for fanciful clocks in the post-war period. Coventry has one. And it seemed to be de rigeur for new shopping centres to have some sort of whimisical timepiece. Were Guinness just following the trend, or was it they who actually started it with their original Guinness Clock at the Festival of Britain?

By Andre Ferrari (26/02/2010)

Good to know my shot has brought forth such memories, and technical know-how, considering it only took a hundred an twenty fifth of a second at f11, on my trusty old Agfa Isolette1, before swiftly moving on to lunch! I understood that someone had sent in a piece of film of the clock in motion, will this ever see the light of day on the site?

By Stefan Bremner-Morris (03/03/2010)

Hello Stefan, When we were on holiday in Morecambe in 1962 my father took a short cine film of the Guinness Timepiece, which I have uploaded onto a very well-known video-sharing site! It only lasts about 30 seconds or so but it's still good fun to see I think. Simply go onto it and search 'Guinness Timepiece'. As Andre above said that the music which accompanied it was 'Some Folks Do', I used that as the soundtrack (I take it he meant the Stephen Foster song, I can't be infringing anybody's copyright by using that music surely!). Best regards, David.

By David Westerby (26/05/2010)

Sorry David, I have only just seen your comment, and I am afraid the reference escapes me with regard to video sharing. Can you give me a clue???! As I am seriously deaf, you need not worry about copyright--I won't hear the soundtrack!!

By Stefan Bremner-Morris (11/07/2010)

Finally found it, David. Nice little film--wish it had gone on a bit further. Thanks.

By Stefan Bremner-Morris (15/08/2010)

In passing, I noticed on the 'Pathe News' site under the entry 'Guinness Clock,' a film concerned with Christmas lighting in 1949. It shows the Palace Pier and Valley Gardens in Brighton at night with decorative lights etc. It is very brief, unfortunately.

By Stefan Bremner-Morris (15/08/2010)

Hi, see the fishing boats in the background? I took a photograph of my parents and younger sister on that boat. If memory serves it was a Kodak Box camera so it would have been very early '60s. Regards

By Rick Smallman (17/01/2011)

Oh what joy! For many years I had spoken about this clock being at Millbrook Park in Jersey when I was a small boy, NO-ONE REMEMBERS IT! I was beginning to think that my memory was playing tricks, I felt like one of those people who claims to have seen aliens but nobody believes them. Yesterday I was in Millbrook Park, this time with my daughter, son-in-law and little grandaughter. I happened to mention the clock, and I think my daughter felt sorry for me and did a little research and has just sent me the link to this site. I feel completely vidicated! I can hold my head up high, safe in the knowledge that I haven't slowly been losing my marbles. (My 16 year old step-daughter has just looked over my shoulder and told me I'm very sad, so I had better finish!)

By Jeff Le Lerre (05/07/2011)

Well done Jeff, you're not sad at all--glad my picture has brought psychological equilibrium back to your life. Tell your step-daughter Toucan to play at that game! Oooh!

By Stefan Bremner-Morris (23/08/2011)

Hi Stefan. I'm writing to you on the off chance that you are the very same Stefan Bremner-Morris who posted the picture on a website of your Aunt and her husband on the steps of Wykeham Terrace. I ask because I am the brand new owner of 3 Wykeham Terrace, Brighton and I would absolutely love to get an enlarged copy of this photograph to put up on the wall in my new home. It's such a wonderful picture. If you are the right Stefan, would you happen to still have the picture or indeed any others of the house?  I'd love to hear from you and I'd really love to know anything that you might know about the house's past.

By Tony Maudsley (26/02/2017)

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