Historical information

The clock parts were discovered in 1980 by Julie Wilkins, a Victorian scuba diver who had already experienced more than 500 dives in Australia and overseas. She was holidaying in Peterborough, Victoria, and looking forward to discovering more about the famous Loch Ard ship, wrecked in June 1878 at Mutton Bird Island. The fast Glasgow-built clipper ship was only five years old when the tragedy occurred. There were 54 people on board the vessel and only two survived

Julie's holiday photograph of Boat Bay reminds her of her most memorable dive. Submerged in the calm, flat sea, she was carefully scanning around the remains of the old wreck when, to her amazement, a gold coin and a small gold cross suddenly came up towards her. She excitedly cupped them in her hands and then stowed the treasures safely in her wetsuit and continued her dive. She soon discovered a group of brass carriage clock parts and some bottles of champagne. It was a day full of surprises. The items were easily recognisable, without any build-up of encrustations or concretion.

Julie secretly enjoyed her treasures for twenty-four years then packed them up for the early morning train trip to Warrnambool. After a short walk to Flagstaff Hill Maritime Museum and Village. Her photograph was taken as she handed over her precious find, she told her story to a local newspaper reporter, lunched a café in town then took the late afternoon train home. Her generous donation is now part of a vast collection of Loch Ard shipwreck artefacts, including the gold watch and the Minton Majolica model peacock.

This group of brass clockwork parts is incomplete. The pieces were in the ocean for over 100 years before Julie recovered them from the Loch Ard wreck. Their size would suit the works of a carriage clock, with a mainspring and weight to power the clock movement, a pendulum to measure the clock's speed, arbours, posts, pillars and at least one other plate. They would have been mounted inside a protective case with a small door to easily access the clock face for setting the time and accessing the key's winding hole. The clock cases were usually made from decorative gilt brass with a glass front and a carrying handle.

The parts include a weighted second hand with a decorative four-pronged finish at one end, a rounded weight at the other, and a hole for attaching it to the clock face. The gear teeth profiles are ‘cycloidal’, an arch shape with vertical sides, which is common for antique clocks. Modern clockworks have ‘involute’ teeth with sloping sides and a squared-off top.


The brass carriage clock parts are an example of a mechanical clock produced in the 1870s. The clock's design is a part of the chain of technological improvements in methods for timekeeping. Its cycloidal gear teeth were the forerunner of the more modern involute gears.
The group of clock parts includes a weighted hand or arm for signifying the seconds. This feature was uncommon in portable Victorian-era clocks.
The clock parts are also significant for their association with the ill-fated sailing ship Loch Ard, wrecked in 1878. The travelling clock or officer’s clock may have been part of the cargo destined for the 1880 Melbourne Exhibition, or the personal possession of one of the people on board the vessel.

Physical description

Brass clockwork parts from a mechanical clock, sixteen pieces. Parts comprise a plate, large gears or wheels, small pinions or wheels with fine teeth, wheels with cogs, and a weighted second hand. The parts were from a carriage clock ca. 1878. They were recovered from the wreck of the sailing ship Loch Ard.