The ECHO Clock

The Echo Salesman

Fork Handle Revival always feel a great weight of responsibility when we handle historic items.  The history of a piece doesn’t have to be glorious. More history is lost than saved which is why we have a responsibility to save what ever we can. 
Our stories are based on fact and evidence of which we will always try to provide a reference. When we must, we will make an educated assumption, but we will say so!

Who would have believed that a clock could create so much interest?!

The Echo, Daily Echo or Southern Daily Echo; whatever era you are from, this was the newspaper for Southampton.  

The Echo is an intrinsic part of the city and when I was growing up in the '70s and '80s it was the word!  The team that worked at “Above Bar” were a group of talented individuals who were respected in Southampton, from the Editor to the infamous seller in the high streets shouting “ECHO”! 

For a kid of the beige and brown of the 70s crashing into the colourful '80s the red top Echo was where our school or charity event might be mentioned and my Nan would save the clipping forever!

My Nan was the one who looked after my sister and I throughout the school summer holidays and the last outing of the break was a trip to town to buy new stationery for school.  New drawing materials from Atkins and WH Smith and a new bag, which during the 80s was an important fashion accessory at school!  

IF, I had behaved myself then I could go looking around Town while Nan shopped for my little sister.  “Meet me under the clock” was the instruction to ensure we met up again and I didn’t get lost.

I thought it was just me that had met Nan or my Mum or my mates and as time moved on, girlfriends under the clock. But no!  For so many people the Echo clock was the reference point to meet in Southampton.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise then when myself and Chris Alexander posted on Social Media that we had saved the clock from a demolition team, ready for restoration and it received over 70,000 views along with many messages of support. 

As proud ex employees of the Daily Echo, Chris and I presented a plan to the owners of the Daily Echo to completely restore the clock.  We would utilise and highlight the skills of Southampton independent businesses and reinstate it back to the heart of Southampton.  Fork Handle also thought it important to secure the history of the clock as well as the physical integrity. 

This is not the first Echo clock!  For the purposes of this record, the first clock was on the Above Bar building, lost during the Blitz of WW2.

Post War, the Echo built a new building of Portland Stone closer to the Bargate Monument and in 1955 its was opened by Earl and Lady Mountbatten with a “Stylish New Clock” and this we class as the second clock.

We don’t have any information about who made this clock or what it was made of.  We know that it ran from a master clock in the building and wasn’t a time piece in its own right.  The master clock, which ran all the clocks in the building, is still in existence but the person who has it has refused to return it to us or its owners!

What comes as a surprise is that this second clock is not what we have now!  The second clock appears to have decayed and during the 1980s was removed.  We think they used the old clock to make a fiberglass replica which is what we have now and is clock number 3. This was what we all stood under from the 1980s until the end of the 90s when the newspaper moved to the new offices and print centre at Test Lane Nursling.

Under our instruction, SW Asgood Engineering (experts in metal fabrication for over 40 years in Southampton) introduced a metal frame to strengthen the wooden one.  This has been put in place to act as a safe and secure hanging point for the future.  We also asked them to make a top as this was missing and we employed our artistic licence with its design.

Generally, design didn’t progress during the war years and much of the post war resurrection used 1930s Art Deco design and we felt the clock had many of the elements from that design era.  If in a few hundred years we are judged to have done wrong, it can be removed and the “original” style reinstated or maybe our top will be left, as in one of the heads on Triggers broom!!

The next step was a new coat of paint and whist it's just black, we wanted to use the best to give the clocks importance justice.  With an excellent reputation for his skilful and unique paint finishes on motorcycles, Lee Cockeram of Roosters Voodoo Paint Shop was the man to ask.  We initially had problems getting the clock into his paint booth, but Lee had the experience to get this job right.  The whole clock needed rubbing back to make a secure paint surface and damage had to be repaired but the crude nature of the fiberglass had to be respected as “original”.  We also cant be sure of whether the clock had a gloss finish and so a semi-matt finish has been used to give a bit of polish to the old girl.

For now, the next step is to replace the letters clock face segments. We were invited by West Quay Shopping Centre to display the clock there in a mid-restoration state. 

This will be the point where we will discuss its permanent position and then decide on how to hang it, power and light it. However, as for most businesses, the financial crisis has meant we need to prioritise our own survival. All of the businesses involved have all given their time, space and materials for FREE! 

The clock revival is on hold at the moment. It is in secure storage, it is still owned by the Daily Echo and it will be reinstated in similar prominent position to where an Echo clock has been in Southampton for over 100 years. 

Please watch this space! If you have any further information or images about the history of the Echo clocks please send them to


Southern Newspapers building bombed in the blitz - 30th November 1940 

New Southern Newspapers and Southern Daily Echo building was opened by Earl and Lady Mountbatten - November 21st 1955, including the “stylish new clock”

Clock was replaced, due to decay, with the version we have today - late 1980's

Fork Handle Revival and Alexander Blacker Property Management are thankful for the support of the following talented and generous individuals and businesses;

 Richard Waterman and Dave Malynn of SW Asgood Engineering

Lee Cockeram of Roosters Voodoo Paint Shop

 Adam Howes, Historical Clock support Andrew of Trestan Powder Coatings


If you loved this story, why not click on the links below to find out more about some of the incredible pieces that we have revived?