Railway clocks – the story so far…





It was late afternoon and Tim and his dad were talking about trains again

Tim had been a fan of trains ever since he was a little boy of about 4 or 5.

His dad (Peter) knew quite a lot about trains and he had a room at home

filled with his Hornby track and trains. Tim and his dad were in the living

room, looking out onto their back garden in Peckham.

Tim was asking his dad about station clocks. When were they first made

and who made them? Who makes them now? Can we buy one for the

Hornby Room?


Dad wasn’t sure when the first railway clocks were made, but he knew that

some of them were made in Switzerland by a company called Mondaine.

For more than 100 years the Swiss Federal Railways were famous for their

punctuality and precision. The train station manager used a special red

signal to announce to passengers that the train was ready to leave. The

same special shape is used on the second hand of the Official Swiss

Railway Clock. Mondaine still make watches and clocks today in their

factory in Biberist,Switzerland.


The company was founded in 1951 by

Erwin Bernheim, but today it is run by his sons Ronnie and André..

A quick look on the internet revealed that railway clocks are auctioned too

and that some of the original examples bring very high prices (but there are

fakes out there too!), but it’s possible to buy a new Mondaine railway clock

today for around £120.Dad thought it would be a good idea to put one in

the Hornby Room, and because they have 2 faces it would be easy to tell

the time from either end of the room – just like when they were used on

station platforms!


Tim of course, wanted a railway clock straight away! He’d be able to

make sure the model trains left on time, just like a real railway, and he

could check if any were running late, due to bad weather!

Dad said there were other companies who made railway clocks, so perhaps

they should look at another place to buy the clock? It was nearly time for

tea and they were both hungry, but they decided to look for another railway

clock manufacturer. “Redwood Clocks” said dad – “they build you a clock

to your own design! It’s not what we’re looking for though” said dad,

“and anyway, they’re based in China!”


“Time for tea I think…” said dad. Railway clocks can wait…..