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Floral Clock

Floral Clock

George Robertson and the Floral Clock

Edinburgh's first floral clock was created on this site in 1903.  It was the brainchild of the Edinburgh Parks Superintendent, John McHattie.  He had been inspired by a carpet bedding display in Princes Street Gardens created the previous year to commemorate the Coronation of King Edward VII on August 9, 1902.

The Edinburgh firm, Ritchie & Son, clock manufacturers and repairers since 1809, installed the mechanism for Edinburgh's first floral clock, and is still responsible for maintaining the clock and many other public clocks in Edinburgh.

The jeweller Mr Mossman, who had a shop at the East End of Princes Street, assisted John McHattie in designing the 1903 clock. Mr Mossman was a direct descendant of James Mossman, a court jeweller to Mary Queen of Scots.

The 1903 clock had only an hour hand.  Its length was 4ft 2 ins.  The clock began to operate on June 10, 1903.

From 1904 onwards, the clock had both an hour hand and a minute hand.

The lengths of the hands of the 1903 clock were 5ft 2ins and 8ft 5ins.

From 1905 onwards, a mechanism was added to reproduce the sound of a cuckoo, every fifteen minutes. The sound was produced by two organ bellows and organ pipes, but there was no model cuckoo to be seen.

By 1950, the sound of the cuckoo had become almost drowned by the noise of nearby traffic, so a new cuckoo sound system, including loudspeaker, was installed.  A model cuckoo was also added, appearing out of its housing every fifteen minutes.

Until 1972, Edinburgh's floral clock operated mechanically.  It needed to be wound daily.  In 1973 it was converted, by Ritchie, to become electrically driven.