Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: November 20, 2018
Webpage updated: January 06, 2019




In the days before everyone could afford to buy their own timepiece, public clocks were important and became landmarks in their own right.  Such was the Guinness Clock, placed high on the front of Drake Circus, looking down Old Town Street towards Saint Andrew's Cross.

Drake's Circus, Old Town Street, Plymouth, with the Guinness Clock, 1950s.
From a postcard.

Plymouth's Guinness Clock was erected on April 1st 1937 by The Electric Sign Company Ltd.  It was they who rented the site from the owners of Drake Circus, the Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society, whose offices were in the building.  The rent was 740 per annum until the end of 1942 and it was estimated that the cost of electricity was to be about 70 a year.  The local maintenance of the Clock was sub-contracted to Messrs W G Heath & Company. 

The advert was 50 feet in length and 13 feet in height, with the synchronous clock having a diameter of 10 feet.  The teak numerals in the Clock were 15 inches in height and lit by opal red tubes.  The legend "Guinness Times" was in 18 inch high letters except for the capital G and T, which were 24 inch.  The phrase was lit by dialume green tubes.  Beneath that was the sentence "Guinness is good for you", all lit by opal red tubes.  The capital letter G of Guinness was 48 inches high and the rest of the word was 36 inches tall.  The remainder of the sentence "... is good for you" was in letters of 24 inches.

"Guinness Time" remained illuminated continuously while the individual letters of "Guinness is good for you" came on individually in sequence and then the whole sentence flashed.  The sign switched off automatically at midnight.  Spare letters for the sign were kept in a small room behind the Clock.

In preparation for the demolition of Drake Circus in 1960, Mr Peter Coleman, an employee of Messrs W G Heath & Company, dismantled the Clock, which by now was rusted and the light tubes were all smashed.  This was hardly surprising given it had just withstood the Plymouth Blitz.  The hands of the Clock and its electric motor were still OK.  It was all taken into store but several years later the Company's boss, Mr Alan Watts, decided it was time to have a clear-out ands the whole lot was taken to the Chelson Meadow rubbish tip.


  From information supplied for plymouthdata dot info by Messrs Diagio Limited, the owners of Guinness.