Visiting the Jubilee Clock at Harlesden, London, England: dating from 1888, commemorating Queen Victoria
Remembering a long reigning Queen
Although the title of this article says 'London', yet in fact when Harlesden's Jubilee Clock was built in 1888, Harlesden was a Middlesex (1) village to the north-west of London. With the expansion of the railroads — not least, to nearby Willesden Juction Station — and with large scale Irish and Commonwealth immigration in the 20th century, Harlesden became absorbed into the Metropolis, and is today part of the London Borough of Brent.
So in 1888, shortly after Queen Victoria had celebrated her Golden Jubilee the previous year, Harlesden acquired a tasteful, commemorative clock tower.
Features of the clock include four faces each topped by a Neoclassical pediment. The structure was executed in cast iron. The clock rests upon a highly ornamental column. This column also formerly supported four large lamplights powered by gas. It was design and built by ironfounders Messrs. Stephen Brothers and Company.
An article dated February 17, 1888 reported somewhat excitedly (and why not?): 'The memorial has greatly pleased the committee and residents'.
In 1997 the structure was restored and is today a well maintained working device and historic landmark.
I have supplied a photo of the Jubilee Clock, below, situated on a pedestrian island at the junction of Station and Craven Park Roads and the High Street; in the background may be seen the twin towers of another local landmark, All Souls Parish Anglican Church. This notable structure dates from 1879; it emerged as a parish church following mission services which had been held at Harlesden Institute since 1858. Executed mainly in brick, Its architect was E J Tarver, who created an octagonal main body of the building (3).
Just to add that as a Canadian I am at least slightly reminded by the Harlesden Clock of the Gastown Steam Clock in Vancouver, British Columbia, which was itself built in the Silver Jubilee Year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.
March 14, 2017
(1) To the question, where is Middlesex? the answer is that it no longer exists as an administrative county; but its boundaries are still recognized as the historic county of Middlesex; the Middlesex Guildhall may still be seen facing Parliament Square, London; and one of the county teams in cricket — that quintessentially English sport — is still named for Middlesex.
(2) The Building News and Engineering Journal, Volume 54, p. 248.
(3) Records show that, in a more religious age at the turn of the 20th century, All Souls, Harlesden might receive a total of more than 800 parishoners to Sunday services.
Also worth seeing
London has such huge numbers of visitor attractions that I will refer to only a small fraction of the principal ones; these include: Trafalgar Square; the Houses of Parliament at the Palace of Westminster; Westminster Abbey (where Queen Elizabeth II was crowned and where Prince William and Kate Middleton were married); St. Paul's Cathedral; the Royal Albert Hall; and so many others.
How to get there
United Airlines flies from New York Newark Airport to London Heathrow Airport, where car rental is available. Underground and train services link Heathrow Airport with Central London. Harlesden Clock Tower lies a few minutes' walking distance from Willesden Junction Underground and railroad station. Please note that some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada
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