Some info about Floaral Clock


The History of the Falkirk Floral Clock


Falkirk Cemetery (Camelon Cemetery)

Falkirk’s first floral clock was the work of the William McRae the Superintendent of the cemetery in Camelon.   Sometime around 1925 he created a clock with floral hands but no mechanism and which was located at the war memorial site in what was described as an “out of the way” corner of the cemetery.  In that year the Cemetery Committee investigated the possibility of providing a mechanism but nothing was done though the idea remained on their agenda for many years.  The costs seem to have been the main drawback and there was no agreement.  It was greatly appreciated by visitors and in 1934 it was relocated to a prominent position near the entrance gates a task involving three gardeners for two weeks. 


Dollar Park

William McRae in due course became responsible for parks and in 1937 it was decided to that the clock would better serve the community in the town’s most popular recreation area, Dollar Park, which had been gifted to the town in 1923 by the philanthropist Robert Dollar, a Falkirk ‘bairn’ who had made a huge fortune in the USA.   It had since its opening become a ‘floral’ paradise and the clock was placed to the left of the entrance gates flanked by Dollar’s Chinese dragon statues. In 1941 one visitor said it was “an even finer piece of work than the one in Edinburgh”. Each year from 1945 on the clock was redesigned to mark occasions like anniversaries and special events and this continued until the 1990s.  The campaign to install a mechanism was revived in the 1950s and in 1959 Falkirk Rotary Club supported by a financial contribution by Robert Dollar’s son , completed the task and at long last the hands began to turn. The first clock design after this was appropriately fashioned to celebrate the Rotary club itself.


The new Municipal Buildings and Town Hall opened in 1966 at Westbank and in the 1982 a report from the Amenity and Recreation Department was submitted to the Councils Leisure and Recreation Committee recommending that the floral clock be relocated to the banking to the right of the entrance just below the Westbank clinic.

The report stated, the Clock is a good example of the craft of carpet bedding and a very useful craftsman training medium for apprentices.

Regrettably, in its present location the work and effort of the staff on the floral clock is not seen to the best advantage because of its rather secluded position.

Due to this disadvantage a more suitable site to be considered was the bank facing the road adjacent to the Municipal Buildings in West Bridge Street which faces all oncoming traffic and would enable a far larger number of people than at present to appreciate the craftsmanship of the carpet bed.

Approval was granted by the Committee and in the summer of 1982 the first floral clock designed for the Centenary of the St Andrews Ambulance Service was planted at the new location.

Planting continued till the late 90’s when due to changes of personal, cut backs and lack of skilled craft gardeners the floral clock ceased to be planted and after 75 years was no longer a floral feature of Falkirk.

Present Day

 In 2009 The Friends of Dollar Park was established with the aim to work with the Council, funding agencies and other organisations in improving the infrastructure of the park.

In late 2017 at a meeting with the Friends and the Cyrenians who were overseeing the maintenance and planting of the walled garden, using community service labour, the idea of bringing back the floral clock to the park was discussed.

The Chair of the Friends Leslie Pryde and member John Fraser, as apprentice gardeners with Falkirk Town Council in the sixties both planted the floral clock as part of their training, and were duly tasked with designing, sourcing and overseeing the planting.

In 2018 the clock returned to its original location and it was fitting that it was designed for the 50th anniversary of the Cyrenians. Community service labour

were used as a training exercise in horticultural practice in the planting of the clock.

Unfortunately the original clock mechamsiun was not in a fit state and the original hands had disappeared, it was decided on a fundraising campaign in conjunction with the Friends, Cyrenians, and Falkirk Rotary Club to purchase new mechamsiun and new clock hands.

However two local businesses have come to the rescue.

Stewart Electrical have removed the original mechanism and restored it to working order.

E R Moffat Catering Equipment Company are manufacturing the clock hands.

Our thanks go to these two companies.

The 2019 clock will be fully functional and designed to represent the Friends and Falkirk Rotary.

The Edinburgh Clock

The City of Edinburgh likes to claim that the 1903 floral clock in West Princes Street gardens is the world’s first though there were certainly examples of similar garden features in Switzerland in the 19th century.  Certainly it was the first to come to international prominence and probably the first ever to have a mechanism that meant the clock hands moved and kept the correct time.     The clock was the work of two experts, the garden superintendent John McHattie and the clockmaker James Ritchie whose ingenious device used parts of an old  organ rescued from the Parish Church of Elie in Fife.  This was concealed in the base of the nearby statue of the poet Alan Ramsay and also powered the life sized cuckoo which was added in 1905 and in the early years emerged on the hour.   For the first year the clock had just an hour hand but a minute hand was added in 1904.  The mechanism was replaced in 1973 by an electrical motor and the clock is still a prominent feature of the gardens well over a century after it first appeared.  The clock had a diameter of 12 feet which was dwarfed in 1905 in the City of St Louis USA which installed a monster 100 foot diameter working floral clock as a centrepiece of an International Exhibition.  It was probably this more than Edinburgh that inspired the fashion for these clocks in many countries.

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