Anvil Point lighthouse clock, £8500 at TW Gaze.

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This Victorian mahogany and silvered brass eight-day wall clock by the London chronometer maker Brockbank & Atkins is relatively unassuming in its appearance.

However, the engraved inscription Anvil Point, One Revolution of Indicator Equals One Revolution of Apparatus, gives a strong clue to its appeal.

Anvil Point is a lighthouse on the Dorset coastline, approximately two miles from Swanage, built by the general lighthouse authority Trinity House in 1881 to provide a waypoint for vessels passing along the Jurassic coast.

Dating to c.1880, it is probable the clock was made for installation in 1881.


A detail of the Anvil Point lighthouse clock, £8500 at TW Gaze.

As every lighthouse has its own signature sequence and frequency of flashes (so that mariners can identify a lighthouse from its signal) so lighthouse clocks often included a subsidiary dial for help with regulation.

The subsidiary to this clock, numbered 1-16, was calibrated specifically to monitor Anvil Point’s original ‘character’ of one flash every 16 seconds.

Fellow survivor

Relatively few of these Brockbank & Atkins lighthouse clocks can be traced but another, made for the Belle Tout lighthouse at Beachy Head in Sussex survives in the collection of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.

Similarly engraved for Belle Tout and calibrated for one flash every 15 seconds, it is marked for Brockbank, Atkins & Moore dating to the period 1885-98 when the watchmaker George John Moore (1838- 1916) was a partner in the firm.

This Anvil Point clock came into the possession of the east Suffolk vendor sometime during various stages of works to modernise the lighthouse since the 1960s. It attracted plenty of admirers at its £800-1200 estimate but ultimately hammered to a buyer via at £8500 (plus 22% buyer’s premium).

The buyer was thought to be a nautical/horological historian and that it is destined to stay in the southern half of England.