Sunday, 11 December 2016

Dunedin's First Public Clock - A Correction and Update

Dunedin's First Public Clock (downward arrow)
above "Beverly Watchmaker" (horizontal arrow),
in Princes street, Dunedin, taken 1860.
[Source : Te Papa Tongarewa]

I have, in the last few days, uncovered some surprising new information, which however, now means I have made a factual error in a Blog I wrote about Dunedin's first public clock. For the sake of accuracy, and especially in regards to Dunedin's early horological history, I feel I need to relate this latest but rather interesting discovery. This has therefore slightly altered what I had previously written in my blog on early timekeeping in Dunedin [link here].

It was after seeing an old 1864 photograph on a "Built in Dunedin Blog" and noting a clock above the pediment of a building of which I was previously unaware that alerted me to this omission. This photo, which is in the Toitū Otago Settler's Museum Archives, was not publicly accessible via Internet and therefore I had simply never seen it before. The writer of this blog gave no information about this old building or of the original occupier(s) and there was no reference to the clock. But what I have discovered is quite fascinating and relates to the still well known Dunedin Watchmaker and Jeweller Arthur Beverly who occupied these premises and put up Dunedin's first public clock. I will also in this blog relate a little history of Beverly and of the watchmakers who were also subsequently in business on this site.

The location of Beverly's Watchmaker's shop in Princess street
highlighted with an arrow. Photo by William Meluish, 1860.
[Source : Te Papa Tongarewa]

While I could not read the name of the owner of the building on the frontage of the Toitū 1864 photo I was at least able to eventually locate a much higher resolution photograph in Te Papa taken in 1860 which, when looking at it very closely under magnification, was clear enough for me to only just make out the name "Beverly Watchmaker" above the shop, the building being shared with "Cosmopolitan" (the "Cosmopolitan Clothing and Outfitting Mart") alongside. This 1860 image, being a gelatin silver print and with such fine detail being visible, is a credit to the "Photographic Artist" William Meluish (died London 1889, aged 65 years). It appears that the original collodion wet plate glass negative has not survived which is unfortunate as it may have provided even more detail. Having seen this photographic process demonstrated some years ago I know the great skill required to capture an outdoors image such as this.

Having worked for seventeen years as a Photographic Archivist I am also well aware of how photographs and even the minutest detail contained within them, especially if an accurate date and location is known, can be an absolutely invaluable tool for research, especially when used in conjunction with archival records. This was part and parcel of my daily work and something that I immensely enjoyed and with some considerable success. So, using the combination of photographs and records we can often reach some very interesting conclusions. This 1860 photograph is most definitely a case in point and I will detail my research for you and illustrate how I have used this and other photographs to confirm my assumptions.

My recent blog on the History of Timekeeping in Dunedin noted a published reference that Mr Arthur Beverly, a Watchmaker of Princes Street in Dunedin, had erected a clock over his premises on or just before October 1860. This is factually correct. But I highlighted this clock as being atop what I had assumed to be his former watchmaking business opposite the Otago Provincial Government Buildings near The Exchange. Although this building did indeed have a clock over the pediment I now know this not to have been Beverly's original premises or clock, having most likely been put up by another Watchmaker and Jeweller, Mr Julius Hyman, when he moved into this new building around October 1866. I have now found conclusive evidence that, as at 1860, Beverly's shop had in fact always been located further up Princes street - and had its own a clock above the pediment. This is the clock shown in the 1860 Te Papa photo and the 1864 Toitū photo used on the "Built in Dunedin" Blog. I have not shown the latter image here as I have not obtained permission to do so nor paid the requisite NZD$55.00 reproduction fee!

Beverly's Earliest Known Business Premises -
In this 1860 image I believe Beverley's earlier premises were
second from left next to Wilkinson's Medical Hall at far left.
[Source Te Papa Tongarewa] 

The first published reference to Beverley occupying premises in Princes street is dated the 1st May 1858, having arrived from Melbourne earlier that year and bringing with him "a stock of jewellery, clocks and watches". At this date he is noted as occupying premises "Adjoining the Medical Hall [Wilkinson's Medical Hall], Princes Street". By October of that year he simply lists his address as "Princes Street". But on the 15th September 1860 I note a "Robert Mackay, Tailor and Clothier" advertising "...that he has Commenced Business in the above line in that shop in Princes-street, lately occupied by Mr Beverly, Watchmaker...". But Mr Beverly still continues to advertise his business as being in "Princes Street".

We now usefully find James R. Hood, trading as the "Cosmopolitan Clothing and Outfitting Mart", advertising from the 1st September 1860 that he had moved from Maclaggan street to Princes street and later on the 15th December 1860 that his business premises were specifically located "Next door to Mr Beverly, Watchmaker". This now fits perfectly with the names appearing above the shop frontage in the 1860 Te Papa photo. This is now Beverly's second known premises as we know that the above Robert McKay occupied his former premises over the road (shown above) in September of that same year.

So we can now say, with absolute certainty, that the report of Beverly having a public clock above his premises in October 1860 will be this same small building with upper dormer windows shared with the above Mr Hood. A close up of this building and of the clock is shown in the image at the very top of this page. I must admit that advertisements of the period state that Beverly had his premises opposite the Bank of Otago (being further up Princes street from The Exchange) and I should have picked this up but unfortunately this critical piece of information simply got overlooked in a mountain of information and references relating to watchmakers and clocks.

Beverly's Business sold to
Isaac Herman, late 1864
[Source : Otago Daily Times]

On the 31st October 1864 Beverley advertises that he was retiring from business. Beverly's "Te Ara" biography claims that he gave up business due to the widespread financial crisis of that year and sold his watchmaking and jewellery retail business in Princes street to Mr Isaac Herman. But an informed source advises me that he simply sold his business in order to devote more time to private projects. The Toitū photo dated 1864 is the last confirmed sighting of Beverly's old pediment clock although I cannot tell from the photo if Beverly was still occupying the premises or his successor.

From the 10th November 1864, Herman advertises that "he has succeeded to the business formerly carried on by Mr A. Beverly, and has now re-opened with a first-class assortment." and "Note The Address - I. Herman (Late A. Beverly), Princes street, Dunedin." Another newspaper advertisement on the same day additionally - and crucially - adds, that he was in business in Princes street "Opposite the Bank of Otago." We know that in 1864 the Bank of Otago was indeed located over the road from Beverly's (second) shop and is the site of the present day National Bank building so this also confirms that Herman's business was in the same premises as Beverly had occupied.

This means that "Beverly's clock", being alluded to in Otago Provincial Government minutes of September 1863, can only have been the clock shown in the image at the top of this page as we definitely now know that between 1860 and 1864 Beverly had simply not moved premises. So while it seemed perfectly plausible to me that the Speaker suggest to members of the Provincial Government that they regulate their watches by Mr Beverly's clock, virtually by just looking out the window and over the road, there was in fact then no clock over the road until around September 1866 nor could Beverly's clock be seen from the Government buildings.

Sale of Herman's Business to George Young,
"Otago Daily Times", 26 Dec 1865
[Source : Papers Past]

We next find that Isaac Herman sold his business to Mr George Young who advertises on the 5th January 1866 that "...he has removed to those centrally situated Premises lately occupied by Mr Arthur Beverly, (opposite the Bank of Otago)...". In turn, auctioneers acting on behalf of Mr Herman advertise on the 22nd January 1866 the sale of his remaining stock the following day, the auction being held at the Empire Hotel. Young therefore commenced business in Herman's / Beverly's old shop with his own stock.

George Young's removal to premises
"lately occupied by Mr Arthur Beverly",
"Evening Star", 22 Jan 1866
[Source : Papers Past]

Despite Beverly having sold his business and moved out some 14 months previous Young still alludes to it having been "lately occupied by Mr Beverly". I suspect that Young hoped to 'trade' on the long established and very respected "Beverly" name, especially as he was operating from the same premises and considering that Herman had had such a short tenure.

As late as the 25th September 1867 Mr Julius Hyman, another Watchmaker and Jeweller, being situated over the road from the Otago Provincial Government buildings by The Exchange, bought out the remaining jewellery stock in the estate of the now deceased Isaac Herman. This is therefore the only connection between Mr Hyman and the former Beverly / Herman and current Young business further up Princes street. From October 1866 Hyman advertises from "No 1 Chambers" and "opposite the Post Office and Government Buildings" so I am assuming these apparently new premises, including his own pediment clock, dates to this period in time.

On the 13th April 1867 Young advertises a "bona fide clearing sale" as he had sold his business with "possession to be given on the 10th May next [1867]". John Hislop, who had established his own business in 1866, bought Young's business, then advertising himself as "successor to George Young, late Arthur Beverly" and "Exactly opposite the Bank of Otago". He was still trading from this site in 1870.

The old Beverly / Hyman shop was located on the site of the present day 204 Princes street which is just next door and immediately to the south of "Eldon Chambers" at 192 Princes street that "Built in Dunedin" wrote about. Small detail in an 1870 photo used in the same blog and comparing this to the Toitū 1864 photo also confirms my identification.

Mr John Hislop
[Source : Cyclopedia of New Zealand]

Young signed an agreement with Hislop dated the 5th June 1867 that he would be "out of business in Dunedin" for two years. During this period Young ran a watchmaking and jewellery business in Oamaru. This agreement expired in July 1869 and Young then immediately set about opening a new business in Dunedin. The Cyclopedia of New Zealand, being published in 1905, states that "The Princes Street site was first occupied by Messrs. G. & T. Young in 1865, a freehold being acquired subsequently. The present building is constructed of brick and concrete and is two stories in height, with solid concrete cellar."

This cannot be correct as when Young was opening his new business "opposite the Bank of New South Wales" Hislop was then still occupying the same original site of Beverly's shop "opposite [the] Bank of Otago". From a Hocken Collections photo I believe Young's were four premises up from Hislops.

Looking up Princes Street in 1870.  A clock can be
seen extending out from Hislops premises just down
from Wilkie's. Youngs were then further up the street.
Burton Bros. Photo.
[Source : Te Papa Tongarewa]

I do however wonder how long Young or Hislop continued to use Beverly's old pediment clock. Beverly's old pre 1860 building was definitely gone by 1870 or at least radically altered and enlarged. Hislop had placed another two sided clock extending out at right angles over the footpath, being (at least by 1880) surrounded by ornamental scrolled wrought ironwork. But this was nothing in comparison to Young's (literally) 'over the top'  ornamental clock arch just up the road which I also mentioned in my second clock blog.

In March 1880 John Hislop, "Late Arthur Beverly", advertises his premises as being "Exactly opposite the National Bank, Princes street, Dunedin". The National Bank building still exists today so is a good point of reference. On the 26th May 1881 Hislop is noted as operating his business from "temporary" premises opposite the Standard Insurance Office in Princes street, being "near the site of his former shop". The Standard building also survives which indicates that Hislop moved slightly down Princes street, in fact possibly just next door. "The Evening Star" advertisements do not note this change of premises but this can easily be put down to using an outdated printing block.
The Opening of Hislops new Premises,
"Evening Star", 27 Dec 1881

John Hislop moved into his new premises in December 1881 and again "Exactly opposite the National Bank". This appears to be the still extant and ornate building located at 204 Princes street being originally named "Hislop's Exchange Court" then later just "Exchange Court". The curious hole in the upper pediment, which has always intrigued me, was apparently to be fitted up with a wind indicator with the opening covered with glass and illuminated at night. An "Otago Daily Times" article describes the rather elegant and apparently quite spacious and opulent new building HERE. The existing facade gives us but a glimpse of what had once been in terms of interior appointments.

204 Princes Street (in centre) as seen 28 Dec 2016
[From my own collection]

On the 6th July 1888, I note this advertisement; "Wanted Known - J. Hislop, Watchmaker, has severed connection with former premises. Removed five doors higher up." But then I find that on the same date "The Exchange Court Watch, Clock and Jewellery Depot" advertising as having bought Hislops "Entire stock-in-trade" and "book debts" and would continue in business "in the premises lately occupied by John Hislop, known as Exchange Court". But here I must end the history of this building and of its previous incarnations and occupiers as this leads into a more modern era.

Finally, and aside from not knowing its eventual fate, I believe the early story of Beverly's 1860 pediment clock, being Dunedin's first public clock by a clear two and a half years - and of his premises - can now finally be told with some considerable degree of accuracy. I will update this blog should further relevant information come to hand.

Timeline :

- Jan 1858 : Arthur Beverly, Watchmaker, arrives from Sydney
- 1st May 1858 : Beverly opens premises on east side of Princes street
- Sep 1860 : Beverly moves across road to premises on west side of Princes street
- Oct 1860 : Beverly erects a public clock above his shop pediment
- 1864 : Beverly's pediment clock still visible above his premises
- 31st Oct 1864 : Beverly retires from business
- Nov 1864 : Isaac Herman, Watchmaker & Jeweller, takes over Beverly's former business, premises and stock.
- Dec 1865 : Herman sells his business (but not his stock) to George Young
- Jan 1866 : George Young, Watchmaker & Jeweller, takes over Herman's former business and premises with his own stock
- Apr 1867 : Young sells his business to John Hislop
- 10 May 1867 : John Hislop, Watchmaker & Jeweller, takes possession of Young's former business and premises
- 25 Sept 1867 : Julius Hyman buys remaining stock (only) from estate Isaac Herman
- 1870 : Hislop still in business in Young's former premises. Original 1860 pediment clock removed by this date
- May 1881 : Hislop now in business from temporary premises nearby
- Dec 1881 : Hislop moves to new premises, "Hislops Exchange Court", on site of his old shop
- 6 Jul 1888 : Hislop moves six doors up Princes street
- 6 Jul 1888 : "The Exchange Court Watch, Clock and Jewellery Depot" take over the former Hislop shop

Sources & Bibliography :

- "Built in Dunedin" Blog
- "Cyclopedia of New Zealand" - Volume 4, Otago and Southland, 1905 (from my own collection)
- "Otago Centennial 1848 - 1948" (from my own collection)
- Papers Past [National Library of New Zealand / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa]
- Te Papa Tongarewa 

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