Does anyone remember the Guinness Clock?

Does anyone remember the Guinness Clock which used to be stationed along the beach at Brighton? I have vague memories of it and can’t even remember what it looked like very well, but I know that as a small child I was interested in it. What exactly was it?
From Cheryl
Posted on
our messageboard on 07-12-03

Response 1
The Guinness clock was a very well-known feature of the sea front. It was on the main road (Kings Road I think) just past the Grand Hotel towards the (now) Brighton Centre. It was high on the building that jutted out there, facing west. In the 1940s, on the Hove beach by Holland Road and without a watch, we could go up on to the promenade and read the time on it from there, which gives some idea of its prominence!
From Pat
Message from website e-mail group on 13-12-03

Response 2
Just to add to the Guinness Clock saga….I did a text search for ‘guinness’ on ‘Brighton and Hove in pictures’ (the library’s site of old photos) and came up with a photo of the paddling-pool on the seafront which includes the following text in its caption: “In the centre of this photograph is a large illuminated sign advertising Guinness, including a large clock which could be seen from the beach.” I’ve peered at the photo hard, though, and can see no sign of a Guinness sign or clock!
From Jack
Message from website e-mail group on 13-12-03

Response 3
It is there! Not easy to find and of course it helps if you can remember seeing it. Find the Grand Hotel in the centre of the photo, there are a couple of buildings to the right and then one that projects out with the outline of a circle at roof level. This was the face of the clock, which was (in the fifties) lit with red neon numerals and hands. Below (indecipherable in the photo) was the name Guinness (also illuminated). I am not sure when it was erected. It was certainly there about 1950, as I was a regular user of the paddling pool. Presumably it went when the building was demolished for the Kingswest/ Brighton Centre in the sixties.
From John
Message from website e-mail group on 18-12-03

Comments about this page

  • I recall that in the mid 60s there used to be a 40ft trailer parked on the lower esplanade on Sundays near to where the model railway used to be. It was a twenty to thirty foot long structure, rather like the old steam organs, that used to have the sealion and other characters appear on a revolving platform when the clock struck the hour. I seem to recall that the design was changed every year. There may even have been a steam organ involved.

    By Geoff Hart (15/02/2004)
  • I too remember the clock being on a trailer. This would have been in the mid 60s and, as I recall, it was at the bottom of the steps opposite the Top Rank, or along by the fisherman’s huts by the Palace Pier. Huge crowds of kids would gather before the hour and it did have the appearance of a fairground attraction. I wonder where it is now? I have never met anyone outside my family who recalls this…thought I’d drunk too much of the black stuff!

    By Martin Owens (30/03/2004)
  • Further to the above, does anyone have a picture of the Guinness trailer? I have looked on the internet via the Google search engine and even the Guinness Museum in Dublin when I was there three years ago, but no-show. Mind you, the Guinness was lovely, straight from the brewery!

    By Geoff Hart (10/07/2004)
  • The original Guiness Clock was of course at the Festival of Britain exhibition in Battersea Park 1951. So popular was it that Guinness then made a smaller replica which went on tour in the country with short stays at places like Clacton and Gt Yarmouth.

    By Geoff Swaine (10/01/2005)
  • The Guinness Clock was on a trailer and it was rather a Heath Robinson affair. At the stroke of the hour various animals associated with Guinness (the toucan/sea-lion etc) used to dance around and on the left hand side a man with an extending fishing pole appeared. The clock extended to a fantastic size – It was a wondrous affair, and must have toured the country as my father took me to see it near the Pier Pavilion at South Shields in Co. Durham.

    By Jim Davis (02/02/2005)
  • Further to the comment about the Guiness clock going on tour: I remember seeing it somewhere (Southsea, I think) and I have some very bad photos which I’ll post if I can find them.

    By Peter (09/02/2006)
  • Yes! Finally some thoughts on the mobile Guinness clock! I recall seeing this as a very small child, in fact I believe it to be my earliest memory. This may or may not have something to do with the fact that I later became a brewer. The steam powered clock was set up on the seafront in summer and I seem to recall that it went off on the quarter hour, playing tunes and coming alive with models of the famous Guinness adverts. I’d love to know what became of it.

    By Alan Knight (14/08/2006)
  • I have only ever seen one Guinness Clock. It stood south of the harbour on the sea-front at Lowestoft sometime in the early 50s. It was a wonderous sight, a towering monster that drew crowds for every performance. I’m sure many will, like me, have a lasting memory of that amazing show.
    We were staying at the Cliffe Hotel [YMCA] and apart from the bowling green opposite, the resort was,then, not very enthralling to a youngster, the clock made up for it.

    By john holmes (04/12/2006)
  • Another Guinness question: does anyone remember the Guinness Toucans either side of the Viaduct which was built across London Road and who suddenly disappeared some year ago? Obviously migrated!

    By Helen Ripley (19/01/2007)
  • I remember seeing the Guiness clock at Hastings, late fifties I think. I seem to remember a Toucan going round among other things.

    By Doreen Watkins (18/02/2007)
  • Thanks all! It’s the trailer one I just about remember. I wonder what today’s sophisticated kids would make of it?

    By Cheryl (08/07/2007)
  • Ah yes! The famous Guinness Clock; not the one on the
    building near West Street but the trailer mounted mobile
    one. I’ve already commented on this wonderful piece of machinery on the Kings Road arches site before I found this one. But anyway as a kid I would play down on the seafront and always look out for it’s appearance over two or three years as I remember. I was fascinated by it and would often hang about for two to three shows at a time. As Alan Knight said above I remember it performing quarter-hourly shows. The other things were the animals of course; a seal, a penguin and a Toucan I remember. It also
    went through the four seasons of the year I think and this was because it had a rotating turntable round-stage with dividers between the seasons. The music was played similar to a brass band , a melody of different tunes one of which was the classic one… the words being Guinness, Guinness gives you Strength gives you Strength gives you Strength…Repeated over a few times as this was the Chorus of the song. If anybody knows of its whereabouts
    love to see it again was only about 9 the last time I saw it, happy memories before I immigrated to Scotland in 1966 which is a smashing place as well. But I love to visit Brighton whenever I can to check out the old places. It’s a great pity Brighton Council have let the old place go to the Dogs , you should be ashamed , not impressed with the West Pier and the seafront prom these days the place looks like it needs a good makeover and some paint at least….

    By Leon Farmer (25/11/2008)
  • I also have fond memories of the Guiness clock (the trailer one). This would be around 1961 or so. Every Sunday during the summer, Mum would put on her two-piece and gloves, and Dad would don a shirt and tie, and we would go promenading! We would always watch the Guiness clock, then go over to see Old Joe (he was a tramp who sat by one of the blocked-off arches opposite the clock). My Dad would give me some money for Joe, and Joe would give me a halpenny Cadbury’s Chocolate bar. He was a lovely man. I have no idea why my parents gave him money – they usually had no time for “people like that”. Then we would walk along the prom, have an ice-cream when I whined about walking, then back again to catch the bus home!

    By Penny Hajduk (06/01/2009)
  • I spent most of the war in Brighton, and was so glad to be reminded of the Guinness clock. I had just left a job in the gown dept at William Hill’s store, and as I was walking west from this clock with a girlfriend, I met Miss Davis the gown buyer. She said she was sorry I had left (to become a hairdresser in Preston st) and said I was the best apprentice she had had. Maybe my only compliment. I emigrated to NZ in 1954.

    By Pamela Anderson (18/02/2009)
  • Fond childhood memories of the Guinness Clock at Sydney Gardens in Bath circa 1957/8. My mother used to take me after school and the anticipation of seeing everything going on was worth the wait. The sun was my favourite. I am worth a few shillings now and as an ex-engineer would love to commission a re-build – however, I have seen the plans and this was an engineering feat beyond me. Shame that Guiness scrapped the clock in the sixties. I wonder if a lobby group would be able to persuade Diabalo to build a new one to original plans?

    By David Bramhill (03/05/2009)
  • The touring Guinness Clock was at one time operated by my uncle (George Lankford). He toured the country with it in the late 50s, early 60s. We went to see him when he was near our neck of the woods in Yorkshire. I was about six at the time. He gave us a private demonstration and showed us all the workings. My 10 year old brother and myself where of course fascinated.

    By Graham Hodgson (11/05/2009)
  • I emigrated to Australia in 65, but the Guinness Clock and the seafront has stuck in my mind. I can remember being on my Dad’s shoulders watching it on Sunday afternoons, then getting an ice cream and walking along the pier. I was only 8 but the joy that steam organ gave me is firmly in my mind.

    By Mary-Anne Paul (nee Hayler) (14/07/2009)
  • Great news reading all the fun times people had watching the Guinness Clock as children and now adults. I remember too as a child we used to watch the Clock in Morecambe by the Clock Tower near the Central Pier, and I believe it moved into Happy Mount Park for some time, adding great excitement to the illuminations. The year would be around mid ’60s. I used to watch the various on the hour, half past and quarter of the hour. The large doors would open revealing the large Toucan and then you had a parade of characters on a track. This must have been the touring Guinness Clock that was in Brighton for a number of years, then moved to Morecambe. I hope that provides another link; I hope one day the clock turns up again. Martin

    By Martin Scott Price (25/02/2010)
  • I’m sure there was a Guinness clock on the front at Gorleston-on-Sea near Great Yarmouth sometime in the early 60’s when we stayed a week there. I’m sorry to have to say this, but it was about the only memorable thing about the resort for me as a child of about 9 or 10 years (maybe the weather was dreary) but the place seems forever monochrome to me except for the wonderful animated clock. I seem to remember a four seasons theme, a man clipping a hedge and the famous toucan; also a German-sounding oompah brass band tune. It’s hard to believe that there isn’t a single clock left now (how many were there?), not even in Dublin? Very disappointing! Why doesn’t someone reconstruct one? I wasn’t surprised to find that the first designer was from Eastern Europe, having been to Prague recently and seen the mediaeval clock; also, think of those Polish silver foil Nativity scenes (like miniature buildings with Disneyland turrrets) in shop windows at Christmas. It could have been 1963 when we were in Gorleston. Must go back, it’s probably a fine place.

    By Diane Sanderson (21/03/2010)
  • The Guinness signs were at the very bottom of the structure and also in a tree shaped model inside the doors that opened at the bottom of the clock.

    By Avril Harper (09/07/2010)
  • To Diane Sanderson:- As a child of about 4 to 6 in the late 50s, I lived in Gorleston-on-Sea near Great Yarmouth. I remember watching the Guinness clock regularly on the seafront. I think it was every 15 mins, and at that age I was fascinated.

    By Nigel Hunt (15/01/2011)
  • I remember The Guinness Clock which travelled the seasides in the 50s. I saw it at Battersea Park in London, also Hastings and Bournemouth. It should be recreated!

    By Coral Avery (17/07/2011)
  • I remember the Guinness Festival Clock very well. You can read all about how it operated and see photos of it on the Guinness collectors website at:

    By Alan Hobden (19/07/2011)
  • I well remember the Guinness mechanical clock (there were others – just plain clocks) on the seafront at Southend (west of the pier). It came I gather from Battersea Park (as part of the 1951 Festival of Britain) and was designed by the cartoonist Roland Emett. It was conical in shape (unlike the photo of that at Brighton) and had all the little doors, spinning suns, umbrellas etc etc. Fascinating.

    By Colin (14/11/2011)
  • I remember the Guiness clock that stood on the sea front at Lowestoft in the early 50s. It was one of the highlights of my stay with my Uncle and Aunty in Trafalga Street. I also remember riding on a miniature train but cannot remember where it was located – this may have been in the late 40s. Please write a note on this page if you remember this.

    By Freddie Lawes (10/08/2014)
  • As a child I saw it, or one of it, on at least two separate years circa 1960 in Aberystwyth.  I recall it being of more solid appearance than those seen here, painted predominantly blue, and not on a trailer.

    By Michael Oakley (15/11/2017)
  • Just reading this, my Father’s company used to maintain these clocks and I spent many days of my summer holidays aged about 8 or so, at Chessington Zoo where he was stationed for the summer. Also, at Battersea Park. I used to love them; they were a magical part of my childhood. The replacement clock was not nearly as good. Are there any original clocks in existence?

    By Sally Cuthbert (05/05/2019)
  • To pick up on this thread, I remember the Guinness clock, arriving on Southsea Common in the early 1950’s. Whilst I don’t recall any of the details of the clock, except that I fancy that it was a floral clock, I do remember the sense of excitement building whenever my sister and I were being taken to see it, presumably for one of its magical performances. I guess this particular clock was the “touring” clock, built on a trailer.

    By Trevor Lang (26/07/2020)
  • I am 92 and remember the Brighton Guiness Clock very well because I lived with my parents at No 90 Kings Road – at the side of The Grand Hotel, and at right-angles to the clock. We were removed from the seafront in 1940 after Dunkirk, and I was then sent as a boarder to Lourdes Convent – where I remained throughout WW2, until I left in 1945.
    I never saw the clock again. They were exciting times.

    By jill bristow (22/12/2020)

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