You got the time mate?

It’s been a while since I asked anyone that.

We all carry phones now and many of us still wear watches.  Some even wear watches that are also phones. With all this time telling ability around I’d wager there aren’t many people asking each other the time these days. A few days ago I found myself doing exactly that and the guy I asked was quite taken aback and funnily enough reached for his phone to enlighten me. He pushed the device in my face as if to say “It’s on here you dummy!”

The truth is, I’d been in a rush that morning and up late the night before. I hadn’t noticed my phone was all but dead when I left the house and I’ve never worn a watch.  I have strange girl-like wrists and a traditional timepiece just doesn’t look right on me.  40 minutes later I was heading along the Southbank and my lifeline to the outside world ceased to function. Luckily I knew where I was going (our phones are obviously our maps these days) so having done what I needed I headed back towards the station. It’s now that I started to think I may well be late for my next meeting and the point when I realised that if you are walking along the Southbank from Leeds Dock to Granary Wharf you don’t have many opportunities to tell the time. This is when I had my encounter with Mr Cleverpants and his fully charged time-telling device.

This unusual incident had me thinking: firstly, that I found it unusual but also that we and by we I mean people don’t tend to build clocks in public places anymore. When was the last public-facing clock installed in Leeds? I’m guessing it was the digital display on the old Yorkshire Post site but I could be wrong.  If I’m right then that’s the late 60’s. That’s a while ago, almost too long you’d think, but I’ve researched and can’t find anything more recent. Sure, we have renovated existing clocks but brand new ones, I’m not seeing any. I’d be happy to hear from anyone if they know better.

Clocks of Leeds

Coincidentally, we were recently contacted by BML Creative, a brand design studio in Leeds. They wanted us to know about the Clocks of Leeds project that they recently started, to celebrate 10 years in the business. That’s the business of building brands not clocks by the way. This anniversary series of interesting side projects has taken place over the last year, the latest being a celebration of the City’s clocks. This has been realised via a website displaying a collection of lovely illustrations which do tell the actual time when you visit.  A nice touch that, guys!

You’ll find the aforementioned Yorkshire Post Tower which is joined by the majestic Civic Hall gold clock hanging above Millennium Square, the Kirkgate Market Clock and the Parkinson Building. Further out of town you’ll also see the fine clock tower in Oakwood and the most recently added Hyde Park Picture House. The guys at BML are planning to add to this collection ongoing and told us they have already lined up the next round of illustrations.

This is a lovely project and I’d recommend you take a few minutes to look for yourself right here: clocksofleeds.com

The clock illustrations have also been released as art prints and are available to buy online from the BML shop (shop.bml-creative.co.uk) in a range of sizes up to A1. These prints have been created by the BML designers in their spare time and all proceeds from the sale of prints go to local charity, St Gemma’s Hospice. These have to be the perfect Christmas gift for the clock lover in your life and a way to kick something back to one of the worthiest causes around.

A celebration of clocks like this had me thinking further: there’s a lot of talk about the Southbank development right now. We’ll be getting a new park and grass or no grass that will be better than the car park we have already. We are also promised a lighthouse (yes that’s not a typo) but I’m not seeing any plans for a clock. Maybe we should do something about this? The people on the Southbank deserve a fine timepiece and Leeds could do with a new City landmark to be proud of, couldn’t it?

I feel a campaign coming on. Watch this space.

  • Written by

    Paul Simon | Editor