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Out and About – The Stanley Clock, South Norwood

Not so long ago we had instructions to trace a witness in Holmesdale Road, South London.  Nothing unusual in that, we do plenty of work tracing various people and this one just involved a trip up to Norwood Junction railway station so a relatively simple journey from our Haywards Heath, Sussex office.

Upon arrival at the station I had to exit into the imaginatively named “Station Road” (those Victorian street planners did not exactly overstretch themselves although I guess “it does what is says on the packet”).  Just before one reaches Selhurst Road you see something a bit out of the ordinary, a small cast-iron clock tower standing in the roadway.  Despite its relatively modest size it is quite a splendid structure much resembling a younger relative of the clock tower on the Houses of Parliament commonly known as Big Ben.

Stanley Clocktower, South Norwood

I usually carry a camera for my locus shots so I took a picture out of curiosity and decided to find out a little more about this quaint structure.  Needless to say, I turned to the internet and found that the clock was a commemoration of the Golden Wedding of William and Eliza Stanley and constructed in 1907.  Now the name Stanley might ring a bell with those DIYers out there as William was an engineer, mainly self-taught, and many of the tools we now use bear his company’s name.  His abilities and skills were many and varied and he even forecast that in the future we would travel by train under the Channel and use cards instead of money.

William was a great local philanthropist providing the nearby Stanley Halls and, a few years later, the Stanley Technical School.  Sadly the halls, which are in local authority hands, have suffered from vandalism and are no longer as impressive as they once were.  The clock however, which was paid for by public subscription, is in fine condition and a fitting tribute to a man ahead of his times – William Ford Robinson Stanley 1829-1909.

Perhaps that moment of apparently idle curiosity in a South London street was not wasted after all.

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