Episode 55: Clocks Update

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017

‘The hours of folly are measured by the clock; but of wisdom, no clock can measure’ (William Blake, 1757-1827)


Welcome to Histories of the Unexpected, where you will discover the history of things that you did not know had a history; like the history of dragons, or the history of snow.

For this episode, let us while away the time, by joining the grandfather clock of the past Professor James Daybell, and the ever timeless Dr Sam Willis, as they chime their way through the revisited unexpected history of clocks.

So set your watches as James and Sam keep you ticking along, with stories ranging from the power of time to the epochs of history, from Martinique to the heart of a global empire and the regulations of millions of lives. It’s full steam ahead on railway time to Greenwich, Lund, St Pierre and Westminster, with the chimes of Big Ben and a pocket-watch which witnessed a largely forgotten catastrophe marking the way. Listen out for James’s dramatic report on the earthquake simulator at the Natural History Museum, not to mention the Penzance to London train; on time one might add thanks to that universal regulator: the clock.

James and Sam will stop the clocks, as they reveal that this unexpected history is actually all about: power and empire, sound and time, trade and respect, disaster and survival.

And remember, being locked in a St Pierre prison cell at 7:52 is not always a bad thing…


‘The mind of man is like a clock that is always running down, and requires to be constantly wound up’ (William Hazlitt, 1778-1830)

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