Wisbech – Dann’s Clock

The full story of Dann’s clock is far better told at http://www.wisbech-society.co.uk/bridge-street-clock.html and it’s an interesting story of how a piece of Wisbech’s history was so nearly lost. It was originally erected in the 1860s as a public service for those who didn’t have their own watch (or smartphone).

It took its name from when James Dann owned his clock, watch-maker, optician and jeweller shop (he seems multi-talented) at 10, Bridge Street in the town. He was clearly proud of his illuminated clock as it was commented on in much of the advertising that he placed in the local media at the time.

In 1869 the local press reported of the council meeting where the clock was discussed by the local elected representatives. The council had agreed to pay for one lamp’s worth of illuminating Mr Dann’s clock at night, because this was seen as a public service to avoid people being attacked when it was dark. Mr Dann was very pleased with this, but he discovered that his lamp was using 21,000 feet of gas (I’m entirely unclear what sort of measurement that is) and he wanted the council to pay for two lamps. I liked how the meeting reported that one alderman queried that they had paid for one, and he “didn’t know how that it was” that they now had to pay for two.

Back in its rightful place, although if I’m being honest, I only noticed it was even there because of the sign on the wall. It cost over £2,000 to bring the clock back to Wisbech and that was donated by local people and businesses, and it feels like money that has been well-spent. The clock would have lost so much of its meaning in any other setting.

The sign on the wall which brought my attention to the clock. I like reading signs relating to history, especially lengthy ones like this.