History of the Clock Shelter

History of the Clock Shelter

It’s a special little building in the little roundabout at the seaward end of Cleveleys high street and well loved by the local community. Visit Cleveleys has set out to find out more about the history of the clock shelter.

What do you know about the History of the Clock Shelter?

What is the history of the clock shelter? Where did it come from? When was it put in the roundabout?

  • Have you got any old photos of that spot as it once was, and photos of the shelter from it’s own origins?
  • Have you got memories of the shelter when you were little? From day trips or maybe from climbing into the rafters?

We want to hear it all, so that we don’t just preserve the shelter as it stands for tomorrow, but also collect and preserve it’s past history too.

Sign Up

Grateful thanks go to all of the local historians and ‘Past’ Facebook Groups who have already provided information about the history of the clock shelter.

When the Clock Shelter was Built

When the Clock Shelter was restored in 2014 we all tried to find out when and why it was built, and if possible to locate a photo from the time. In 2014 we seemed to draw a blank, but now, thanks to local historian Nick Moore, and the good people of the Thornton Cleveleys Past Facebook group, we’ve got some amazing information to share!

Sponsored

Nick tells us that the shelter and its clocks were erected on Victoria Road West, Cleveleys, in 1928. It was built to complete the New Promenade, which was opened on the 17th of September 1927.

Bill Moorcroft shared this snippet about Cleveleys Promenade from the Gazette & Herald of 28th July 1928:- “The artistic rockery seats have recently been made even more attractive by the ornamental electric lamps placed in the centre of them. At the top of Victoria Road, near the shore, an artistic shelter is shortly to be erected, and is to have a clock affixed. When this is done the entrance to the Promenade will present a pretty appearance and will be a credit to the local authorities.”

It was Dave Hutchinson came up trumps and found us a photo of Victoria Road West in his collection without the clock. Take a look at this –

Victoria Road West pre 1928, without the Clock Shelter. Photo: Dave Hutchinson. History of the Clock Shelter
Victoria Road West pre 1928, without the Clock Shelter. Photo: Dave Hutchinson

Does anyone have any other information to add?

You might remember the community campaign to restore the clock shelter. That was back in 2014.

In the Beginning – the History of the Clock Shelter up to 1950

History of the clock shelter - Cleveleys Clock Shelter in the early 1900's, thanks to Juliette Gregson
Cleveleys Clock Shelter, undated but from the early 1900’s, thanks to Juliette Gregson who runs the Blackpool’s Past Facebook Group  

This is another undated one, from Carol Barnes, one of the admins of Thornton Cleveleys Past Facebook Group

History of the clock shelter
Cleveleys Clock shelter – photo from Carol Barnes

Clock Tower from Andy Ball

History of the clock shelter
Cleveleys clock shelter features in a postcard dated 1931 and postmarked 1932. Printed by Lilywhite Ltd of Sowerby Bridge.
History of the Clock Shelter - 1930's view of the Clock Shelter, sent in by Samantha King
1930’s view of the Clock Shelter, sent in by Samantha King. This also shows the theatre where summer shows took place each year in Cleveleys
History of the Clock Shelter - Clevelys Clock shelter before the Olympia amusements were built. Photo thanks to Andy Ball
Cleveleys Clock shelter before the Olympia and amusements were built. Photo thanks to Andy Ball/Thornton Cleveleys Past

The photo below dates from 1937 and was also provided by Andy Ball. In it you can see that there was originally a gutter on the building, supported with fancy finials.

History of the clock shelter
Cleveleys Clock Shelter in 1937, photo from Andy Ball

Here’s another undated, but excellent photo, also supplied by Andy Ball. Judging by the clothes and the vehicle, it’s probably dating to the late 30’s or early 40’s.

However, this is just what the promenade looked like up to the point when the new sea defences were built.

History of the clock shelter - Clock Tower from Andy Ball

History of the clock shelter - 1942 view of Cleveleys Clock Shelter from Dave Hutchinson
1942 view of Cleveleys Clock Shelter from Dave Hutchinson, originally posted in the Thornton Cleveleys Past Facebook Group

More recent times – History of the Clock Shelter  – 1950’s onwards

You could say that Cleveleys seafront as we know it started to grow from the 1950’s onwards. The guest houses in this photo supplied by Dave Hutchinson were later demolished to make way for the ice cream parlour and mobility shop.

History of the clock shelter - Cleveleys promenade and clock shelter in the 1950s - photo from Dave Hutchinson
Cleveleys promenade and clock shelter in the 1950s – photo from Dave Hutchinson

Tony Bowker, who told us that he used to help his grandfather wind the clocks, also sent this bit of history about the boarding houses:

“One of the boarding houses that were demolished was run by an aunt of my Grandmothers. She came from Tunstall in Staffordshire  after her first husband died in around 1907 with my father aged four and my two aunts. This is where she met my grandfather who looked after the clocks in later years, after the second world war..”

What’s in a name?

There doesn’t seem to be a standard name through the years for the clock shelter.

Pete John Smith told us that it was known as the birdcage back in his youth, and it was also called the four faced liar. That particular nickname was because the four clocks often told a different time!

This photo, sent in by Pete Skinner, was taken during a rainy weekend in 1975. Note that the clocks look to be complete, there’s still glass in the windows and it’s still got its drainpipes.

History of the clock shelter - Cleveleys Clock shelter in 1975, photo from Pete Skinner
Cleveleys Clock shelter in 1975, photo from Pete Skinner

The Clocks apparently went Missing in the 1980’s

Tony Bowker has been in touch with this anecdote. “I have lived in NZ for over 50 years, but remember the clock tower from my earlier days. My grandfather, Havelock Bowker, lived in York Avenue and had the job of keeping the clocks serviceable.

“In the late 1940,s I used to feel very important walking up Victoria Road carrying the ladder that my Grandfather used to get up into the clock tower loft. He used to go regularly to wind the clocks and make sure that they were OK.

“He died in 1964 so certainly he wouldn’t have had any idea where the clocks disappeared to. I know the clocks were there in 1948. I don’t have any photos but I have a postcard from the 1980’s and the clocks were missing then.”

Thank you Tony, for another piece of the jigsaw of the history of the clock shelter.

But when?

This photo below, sent to us by Peter Ford, dates back to the 1980’s. The guest houses are still standing (pre the ice cream parlour and mobility shop) but the clocks have gone AWOL. If anyone knows what year the buildings were demolished, it gets us closer to dating the disappearance of the clocks.

History of the Clock Shelter - Cleveleys clock shelter in the 1980's. Photo from Peter Ford
Cleveleys clock shelter in the 1980’s. Photo from Peter Ford

The next one below is one of our photos from the Visit Cleveleys archive, taken before the new sea defences were built. Unfortunately it’s not quite at the right angle to see whether the clocks are missing, but it’s painted in the same colour scheme as the photo above.

This was scanned from a transparency. Is it the wrong way round, or have we forgotten what the promenade looked like at the left? It’s interesting to look back at the history of the clock shelter and the promenade and see how things have changed.

History of the clock shelter
Clock shelter before the new sea defences at Cleveleys were built

The last time the Clock Shelter was Green

These photos are also from the Visit Cleveleys archive, and were taken in July 2008. When it was next repainted the colour scheme was changed to black and cream.

History of the clock shelter
Cleveleys clock shelter in green
History of the clock shelter
Cleveleys clock shelter in green
History of the clock shelter
Cleveleys clock shelter in green
History of the clock shelter
Cleveleys clock shelter in green
History of the clock shelter
Cleveleys clock shelter in green

More to the Clock than Meets the Eye…

Well, well, well.
It seems that our one shabby clock in the town centre roundabout on Victoria Road West might be a little treasure after all.

The William Potts clock at Cleveleys - history of the clock shelter
The William Potts clock at Cleveleys

Apparently started by William Potts who was born in 1809, the company which made our clock grew and expanded and was awarded a Royal Warrant by Queen Victoria in 1897.

It was renamed William Potts & Son when three of Williams sons joined the business, but after the First World War two sons left to start their own businesses.
William Potts and Sons joined the Smith of Derby Group in 1935, but kept the name.

More than 1600 clocks are believed to still be in existence, and there are various notable examples including Edge Hill railway station in Liverpool.

So there you go, there’s more to the history of the clock shelter than we thought.

History of the Clock Shelter – 2014 Restoration

In 2014 Visit Cleveleys led the Save our Clock Shelter Campaign. Between us all we secured the future of one of the last remaining heritage assets in the town.

This is what it looked like before we all rallied round and saved it…

Clock shelter before renovation

And this is what it looked like afterwards… It’s another chapter in the history of the clock shelter, what chapters will be written next?

The restored Cleveleys Clock Shelter

Find out More

Have a look at the Visit Cleveleys website homepage for more of the latest updates.

If you love the Fylde Coast you ought to sign up for our weekly email newsletter. It’s packed full of interesting things and will arrive in your inbox all 52 weeks of the year.

Join us on Facebook at our Visit Fylde Coast Facebook Group

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @visitFyldeCoast

What do you think? Leave a comment

2 Comments
  1. Great piece on the history of the clock shelter, with some really evocative photos. I particularly like the colour photo supplied by Dave Hutchinson, entitled ‘Cleveleys promenade and clock shelter in the 1950’s’. I do, however, contest the date of this photo. The photo comes from a postcard in the Colourmaster series, published by Photo Precision Limited, St Ives, Huntingdon, reference no PT19333, described as ‘Victoria Road, Cleveleys’. Whilst most of the cars do appear to be models produced from the mid-1950’s to mid-1960’s, my reasons for doubting that this is a 1950’s scene are twofold: Firstly, on close inspection, you will note double yellow lines painted along the edge of the road. According to Wikipedia, double yellow lines were first introduced in the UK by section 51 of the Road Traffic Act 1960. Secondly, you will note merry-go-round and candy floss booth in ‘the area known as ‘Children’s Corner’ in the foreground. however, in the ‘Our History’ section of the Masons Amusements website, it is stated that Masons took The Arena off the council’s hands in 1966 to establish Childrens Corner on the site. This then suggests the scene is more mid -1960’s than 1950’s!! Can anyone add to this?

  2. Further to my recent comment, regarding the photo of the clock shelter with ‘Childrens Corner’ in the foreground; whilst Masons Amusements website states that Masons took over the Arena in 1966 from the council to establish Childrens Corner on the site, I have seen it elsewhere on the internet (i.e. tripadvisor) that there has been a Kiddies Corner on the promenade at Cleveleys since 1961. and from my own early memories, i tend to favour the 1961 date rather than 1966. Can anyone confirm this? I wonder if 1966 was when Masons changed the previous kiddies’ car ride (with cars that I remember as being similar to ones at Corrigans in Fleetwood) to the well-known ‘vintage cars’, that remained an attraction at Kiddies Corner aka Childrens Corner aka The Arena for several decades, as well as the ‘Alpine Glide’ (helter skelter) !!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *