Time for the train

If, like me, you use the railways a lot to get around, you’ll know that the timetables changed last weekend. For those living in the south-east of England, it’s said to be the biggest timetable shake-up in 40 years. With so many services being altered, it’s more important than ever to know the right time.

Our newly-refurbished ‘Measuring Time’ gallery is stuffed with clocks and watches from the Middle Ages to the present. It’s a great collection and well worth spending time in. One highlight is a huge turret clock from Wells Cathedral, still in full working order.

Wells Cathedral, c.1880 (NMeM / Science & Society)

Wells Cathedral, c.1880 (NMeM / Science & Society)

The clock now on show in our gallery was made in 1392, and is the third oldest surviving clock in the world (and only six years younger than the oldest, which is at Salisbury Cathedral). It’s huge, and a joy to watch in operation. Here’s a detail of the escapement (the bit that ticks):

Detail of the Wells Cathedral clock, 1392 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

Detail of the Wells Cathedral clock, 1392 (Science Museum / Science & Society)

The clock chimes on the quarter-hours and strikes the hours, and the majestic sound of the bells as they ring across the Science Museum’s central galleries is a joy to hear. Still keeping time after over 600 years!

British Railways Western Region poster promoting services to Wells, 1950s (NRM / Science & Society)

British Railways Western Region poster promoting services to Wells, 1950s (NRM / Science & Society)

Coming back to the railways, this 1950s British Railways poster shows the prominent position of Wells Cathedral over the city. No excuses for missing your train…

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