The following is a copy of an article written in the North Devon Journal in September, 1881, concerning Braunton. It refers to my great-grandfather William, who, as a youth, and together with the rest of his family, migrated to Birmingham in the 1850s. It is not known how William came to be in touch with Braunton about this project. William was in the clock-business, and is thought to have excelled in his work, possibly having supplied parts for the Greenwich Clock.

In fact, this article reports the final act of the project, it having been reported on periodically in the North Devon Journal since 1880.


FOR some months past, there has been a good deal of talk in this town as to the erection of a clock in the square, and the desirability of this end being accomplished was admitted on all sides.

Public meetings were held and a committee was appointed to carry out the work. A gentleman named Lerwill of Birmingham (but formerly of Braunton) kindly offered to provide the clock on the condition that the inhabitants of the town erected a suitable tower for its reception. Mr. Harwood of Ilfracombe, and Mr. Harris, of Braunton, took the matter in hand, and a subscription list was opened and this was liberally responded in, £45 being soon raised towards this object. The committee sent plans of the proposed tower to Mr. Lerwill, but, strange to say, that gentleman refused to answer any communications sent to him on the subject. And there the matter stood until Saturday last when Mr. Lerwill himself arrived in the town, accompanied by another gentleman and bringing with him the clock he had promised.

And now becomes the most singular part of the story. The citizens of Braunton refused to accept the clock because it was only possessed of two faces! It had been said that the clock should have four faces, and so Mr. Lerwill expressed his willingness to make any amendment in the one he had brought in order to meet the wishes of the townspeople. The gentlemen who acted for the committee, however, then absolutely refused to accept Mr. Lerwill's offer on any condition! The subsequence is that the whole of the scheme will fall to the ground, the money which has been collected being returned to them who subscribed it (among the number who have had their money returned being Sir T.D. Acland, Bart., M.P.).

Mr. Lerwill returned to Birmingham on Monday, very much annoyed, as may be supposed, by the manner in which he has been treated by the Brauntonians. Before he left, however, he deposited his card with several of the inhabitants and said that if the decision which had been arrived at was re-considered at any time, he would be most happy to visit the town again and fulfil his promise.

The Braunton Clock project was never resurrected. However, it is noteworthy that the two-faced clock design mentioned here was later used in two clocks supplied to Snow Hill Railway Station, Birmingham, in 1912. These clocks remained in place until 1968, one in the booking hall and one placed above platform 7.

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