Monday, 30 September 2019

Patna Secretariat, Bihar colonial heritage clock made by Gillett and Johnston Co., England

Joseph Munnings, architect.  Secretariat, Patna telegraphindia.com
 Colonial clock. Secretariat bldg, Patna, Indiatelegraphindia.com
 My passion for colonial clock towers and, old and beautiful mechanical clocks on them has no bounds. Their attraction is irresistible adding aesthetic to the surroundings. Across India there are countless colonial clock towers and with exceptions many of  huge clocks on the tower are either broken or in neglect  or you would find a hole in the place where the face of the clock stood. The colonial clock on the tower of the Patna Secretariat building is an interesting one.

Patna Secretariat in the capital city Patna designed by the famous New Zealand-born architect  Joseph Munnings of Sydney, Australia is a famous colonial building in Bihar. Munnings  it is said, designed this building  on the model of  the Union Building of Pretoria, South Africa.  Located between  city's two historical buildings  Raj Bhavan in the west and Patna High Court in the far east, the work began in 1913 and completed in 1917 and the contractor was Martin Burn of Calcutta based company.  Frequently referred to  as  Patna Sachiwalaya or Old Secretariat, this building built  in Victorian style  carefully following  Indo-Sarcenic design is an architectural beauty and splendor and  it is the administrative headquarters of the state Government of Bihar.  Actually, the building that came up during World War I is a blend of the neo-Gothic and pseudo-Renaissance styles, measuring  716 feet long 364 feet wide. It  is considered the largest government building in the city. 
The Union Buildings, Pretoria, S.Africaen.wikipedia.org
 Secretariat building, Patna, Indiatelegraphindia.com
The Pretoria building was built by Herbert Baker, an architect of secretariats, Council House in the New Delhi capital area. Architect Munnings was the consulting architect of the then newly formed state of Bihar and Orissa during 1913-1918. His  major projects included the secretariat, government house and council chamber in Patna.

This impressive old structure is  adorned by a tall, highly visible clock tower in the center of the building in the middle of  lush green lawn. Presently its height is 184 feet. In the past it stood 198 feet tall, but part of he building fell down in the wake of 1934 earthquake that struck part of Nepal and Bihar.
Gillett and Johnston clock maker. alamy.com/
The beautiful Churchill-pattern clock  atop then old secretariat tower,  developed snag in June 2016.  It is said the lever was worn out as a result, the needles are not working. Efforts were afoot to
Gillett and Johnston clock with large face. en.wikipedia.org
get it repaired, considering its heritage values. Made by Gillett and Johnston, clock makers from Croydon, England,  the Churcill-pattern clocks  have a patterned round face and larger digits than usual. One of the finest pieces of Churchill-pattern clock towers in India, the clock was installed  in the tower way back in 1924  - about 95 years ago.  

The following are the interesting facts: 01.  The clock's pendulum weighs over two quintals, 02. Its minute and hour needles have a combined weight of over 50kg, 03. Its hour-needle is 4.5ft long and the minute-needle 5.5ft, 04. The winding of the watch takes about 15 minutes, 05. The clock is provided with a bell and it needs  another 15 minutes  to wind it  and 06. Clock keepers have to climb 276 steps to reach the top to wind the clock  and maintain it regularly.  
 In those olden days when the giant club of the clock used to strike the equally large disc for gong  the sound would reverberate through the entire town at a time when the population was around 100000.

Since it is tough to get spares for defective old colonial clock, copying spares in India is equally tough, the govt. authorities had a proposal to have a digital clock fixed like the one in Patna Junction.  As it happened to be '' a heritage structure of Patna, the government should have ensured its proper upkeep", many monument and heritage lovers felt.

Tit-bits:
gracesguide.co.uk
Gillett & Johnston clock-bell makers gracesguide.co.uk
Gillett & Johnston was a clock maker and bell foundry based in Croydon, England from 1844 until 1957. Between 1844 and 1950, this company made over 14,000 tower clocks  at the works. The company's most successful and prominent period of activity as a bell founder was in the 1920s and 1930s, when it was responsible for supplying many important bells and carillons for sites across Britain and around the world.  A successor company is running the operation in Bletchingley, Surrey, under the Gillett & Johnston name, engaged in clock-making and clock and carillon repair. It was established by William Gillett in Hadlow, Kent, in the early 19th century. In 1837, Gillett moved his business to Clerkenwell, London; and in 1844 to the site in what later became known as Union Road, Thornton Heath, Croydon, which would remain its home for the next 113 years. ................
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gillett_%26_Johnston)
https://www.telegraphindia.com/states/bihar/landmark-clock-is-stuck-in-time/cid/1359061