Street Tales: The Emmett Clock

Words: Joe Earp
Illustrations: Eva Brudenell
Thursday 22 February 2018
reading time: min, words

The very last in Joe Earp's series that reveals the hidden history of Nottingham's streets...


The Emett Clock, also known as The Aqua Horological Tintinnabulater, was designed and created by Rowland Emett. The clock arrived at the Victoria Centre in 1973. Since its installation, the clock has become a much-loved local landmark and a popular meeting place.

Since its first installation, the clock has chimed on the hour and half hour, playing Gigue en Rondeau II (1724) from Rameau's (1683–1764), Pieces de Clavecin Suite in E-minor. This musical, animated sculpture was originally situated between Boots, Next and John Lewis (formerly Jessops) on the lower mall of the Victoria Shopping Centre. At some point, the clock was modified to chime and play the music every fifteen minutes.

In 2014, the future of the clock looked grim. There were reports in the media and local community that the clock was going to be dismantled and would no longer be displayed in the Victoria Centre. Thankfully, the clock was not to be removed, and after more than forty years at the heart of the shopping centre, the Emett Clock was lovingly restored by local Engineer Pete Dexter and The Rowland Emett Society. Over the summer of the same year, the clock went on display for a exhibition at the Millennium Point in Birmingham.

After being put on display in Birmingham, it was put into storage until December. The parts were then transported back to Nottingham, where further refurbishment work was carried out by Pete Dexter. It was then officially reassembled in its current location on the north end of the upper mall in the Victoria Centre. Its stature, colour scheme and most of its original water features were restored. It was officially restarted on 17 June 2015 by Emma Jaggers, granddaughter of Pete Dexter.

So, the future of the clock looks safe for now. A common local custom is to throw a coin into the clock's pond and make a wish. Many children and adults alike have done this over the years and it’s become popular among Viccy Centre shoppers, with all donations given to local charities.

For more on Nottingham history, check out the Nottingham Hidden History website.

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