The Clock Tower

The RSA Clock Tower is a strong focal point of the RSA Island Centre. It stands as a symbol of the rich history associated with the Royal Small Arms factory.

The RSA clock was made around 1783 by Thwaites & Reed. It was one the earliest clocks they assembled. This world renowned company has maintained clocks for the most prestigious buildings, including Big Ben.

Sadly, following the closure of the RSA factory, the clock was neglected. Pigeons nested in it and the mechanism rusted solid. In 2001, the clock was renovated as part of the project that created an Interpretation Centre at the RSA Island Centre.

A History

The Army and Navy Establishment routinely reused Thwaites & Reed clocks. It would have been essential that the RSAF had the best clock available, coupled to a quality bell. The bell is 41in diameter and was cast at Woolwich Arsenal in 1856. The clock has its original mechanism and still carries out its function as a centrepiece of a local community. Volunteers from the RSAF Apprentices Association and local residents regularly wind the Clock. It is certainly a national treasure!

The Restoration

The mechanism was removed and each part restored to conservation standards. The clock has several dates marked as follows:

  • frame plate dated 1783

  • setting dial inscription dated 1808

  • clockmakers mark dated 1857

  • barrel inscription dated 1883

 Clock Details

  • 48" diameter dials are made of solid slate set into a cast iron bezel.

  • The hands are copper, ribbed for strength

  • The restored clock mechanism is now fully operational.

  • The Clock does not strike at night as a silencing device has been fitted.
  • Winding is done manually every week.

  • Regulation is achieved through the traditional means of turning a rating nut at the end of the pendulum.


Why not organise a visit to the Clock Tower and the Interpretation Centre, or become a volunteer winder?

- please contact The RSA Office on: 01992 854 321 or email us

The Clock Tower 

Above: The Clock Tower

Below: The Clock Mechanism

The Clock Mechanism