Astronomical clock card

Astronomical clock

WAG 2003.6

On display


The elegant case of this 1787 astronomical clock hides its exceptionally complex workings. We can't run the clock when it's on display. But when working it shows constantly-changing information about the relative positions of the Earth, Moon, Sun and stars. In the seventeen hundreds this was of interest to everyone. Daily life was still dominated by the church calendar. Moveable feasts like Easter are calculated from the moon and sun. Before railways and good roads, travel and transport were mostly by water. Tides depend on the pull of the moon, so knowing its phases was essential - and the stars were used to calculate position at sea. At this time there was a huge expansion of trade and travel, so the accuracy of this information was crucial. People were also more interested generally in Man's place in the universe, and in science. This clock is a perfect combination of science and craftsmanship - even playing music, with a special tune for Sundays. It's one of two surviving from only six by local clockmaker Thomas Barry. It's the most accomplished made in the Merseyside area, then the world centre of clockmaking.