Historical information

The clock was either made or sold by T. Gaunt & Co. of Melbourne, a manufacturer, importer and retailer of a wide variety of goods including jewellery, clocks and watches, navigational and measuring instruments, dinnerware, glassware and ornaments. Thomas Gaunt photograph was included in an album of security identity portraits of members of the Victorian Court, Centennial International Exhibition, Melbourne, 1888. Thomas Gaunt History: Thomas Gaunt established Melbourne's leading watchmaking, optical and jewellery business during the second half of the 19th century. Gaunt arrived in Melbourne in 1852, and by 1858 had established his own business at 14 Little Bourke Street. Around 1869 he moved to new premises in Bourke Street on the corner of Royal Arcade, Gaunt's shop quickly became a Melbourne institution. Gaunt proudly advertised that he was 'The only watch manufacturer in the Australian colonies'. While many watches and clocks may have had Gaunt's name on the dial, few would have been made locally. Gaunt did make some watches for exhibitions, and perhaps a few expensive watches for wealthy individuals. Gaunt's received a telegraph signal from Melbourne Observatory each day to correct his main clock and used this signal to rate and repair ship's chronometers and good quality watches. His main horological manufacturing was directed at turret clocks for town halls, churches and post offices. These tended to be specific commissions requiring individualised design and construction. He made the clock for the Melbourne Post Office lobby, to a design by Government Astronomer Robert Ellery, and won an award at the 1880-81 Melbourne International Exhibition for his turret clock for the Emerald Hill Town Hall. He became well known for his installation of a chronograph at Flemington Racecourse in 1876, which showed the time for the race, accurate to a quarter of a second. The firm also installed the clockwork and figures for Gog and Magog in the Royal Arcade. Thomas Gaunt also developed a department that focused on scientific instrumentation, making thermometers and barometers (from imported glass tubes), telescopes, surveying instruments and microscopes. Another department specialised in electroplating for trophies, awards and silverware, and the firm manufactured large amounts of ecclesiastical gold ware and silverware, for the church including St Patrick's Cathedral. There are no records that disclose the number of employees in the firm, but it was large enough for Gaunt to hold an annual picnic for the watchmakers and apprentices at Mordialloc from 1876; two years previously they had successfully lobbied Gaunt to win the eight hour day. Gaunt's workforce was reportedly very stable, with many workers remaining in the business for 15 to 30 years. Gaunt's wife Jane died on September 1894, aged 64. They had one son and six daughters, but only three daughters survived to adulthood. Two became nuns at the Abbotsford Convent and one daughter, Cecelia Mary Gaunt (died 28 July 1941), married William Stanislaus Spillane on 22 September 1886 and had a large family. Gaunt died at his home in Coburg, Victoria, leaving an estate valued at ₤41,453. The business continued as T. Gaunt & Co. after his death. Post Office and Clock History: Warrnambool’s Post Office has been in existence since 1857, when it was originally situated on the corner of Timor and Gilles Street. In March 1864 the Warrnambool Borough Council purchased this clock from Henry Walsh Jnr. for the sum of £25, “to be put up in front of the Post Office”. Henry Walsh Jnr was the eldest son of Melbourne’s Henry Walsh, maker and retailer of clocks, watches, thermometers and jewellery. In 1854 Henry Walsh Jnr. began business in Warrnambool as a watchmaker and jeweller later becoming a Councillor with now a local street named after him. The Post Office was extensively remodelled in 1875-76. Early photographs of this building show that the clock was installed on the northern outside wall, Timor Street, under the arches and between the 2 centre windows, where it could be seen by passers-by. Although spring loaded clocks date back to the 15th century, and fob and pocket watches evolving from these date to the 17th century, personal pocket watches were only affordable to the very fortunate. Public clocks such as this Post Office clock provided opportunity for all to know the time, and for those in possession of a personal watch to check and set their own timepieces to the correct time. During post office reservations during the 1970s the clock was removed and was eventually donated to the Flagstaff Collection.


The Clock’s maker Thomas Gaunt, is historically significant and was an established and well renowned scientific instrument and clock maker in Melbourne during the 1860s. He was at that time the only watchmaker in the Australian colonies. In the 1870’s and 1880’s he won many awards for his clocks and was responsible for sending time signals to other clocks in the city and rural areas, enabling many businesses and organisations to accurate set their clocks each day. Warrnambool Borough Council purchased this clock from Henry Walsh Jnr. for the sum of £25 and the clock used to stand in front of the Warrnambool post office to allow ordinary citizens to set their time pieces as they walked by. The item is not only important because it was made by a significant early colonial clock maker and retailed by a locally known clock maker and jeweler but also that it was installed in the Warrnambool Post Office a significantly historical building in it's own right. Built in 1857 and regarded as one of the oldest postal facilities in Australia, with a listing on the National Heritage Database, (ID 15656).

Physical description

This 1864 hall clock originates from the Warrnambool Post Office. The clock glass is hinged to the top of the clock face and has a catch at the bottom. The metal rim of the glass is painted black.

The clock face is metal, painted white, with black Roman numerals and markings for minutes and five minutes. The tip of the small hour hand is shaped like a leaf. "T. GAUNT / MELBOURNE" is printed in black on the clock face. The winding key hole is just below the centre of the clock face.

The key winds a fusee chain mechanism, attached to the brass mainspring barrel that powers the pendulum with an 8-day movement. The speed of the clock can be adjusted by changing the position of the weight on the pendulum, lengthening or shortening the swing; raising the pendulum shortens its swing and speeds up the clock. The metal fusee mechanism has an inscription on it.

The rectangular wooden casing is with a convex curve at the bottom that has a hinged door with a swivel latch. The original stained surface has been painted over with a matte black. There are two other doors that also allow access to the clock’s workings. The case fits over the pendulum and workings at the rear and attaches to the clock by inserting four wooden pegs into holes in the sides of the case then into the back of the clock. A flat metal plate has been secured by five screws onto the top of the case and a hole has been cut into it for the purpose of hanging up the clock. There is a nail inside the case, possibly used for a place to the key.

Inscriptions & markings

"T. GAUNT MELBOURNE" is printed on the clock face. “6 1 3” embossed on the back of the fusee mechanism behind the clock.