Take the Scenic Route

Monday, January 22, 2007

Clocks, The Clocktower, and Delusions of Grandeur

Tee-hee. You can see the new plywood clock in the registry building on the campus weather station page. Apparently, it is the first time the clock has been serviced since it was installed in 1931. But was is really odd is that construction of the Clocktower building began in 1879, meaning there was a clocktower for nearly 50 years containing no clock.

Of course this isn't entirely unusual. In those days, it wasn't unusual for magnificent buildings to be only half completed. Rather than reduce the cost of the overall design, they'd just half build something, on the assumption that people would find more money to finish the job later. In fact, wandering around the geology building behind the clocktower, it's extremely obvious that it was designed to be extended in both directions, as the end walls are brick, rather than the breccia and limeston finish of the sides of the building.

Possibly the craziest in Dunedin is the cathedral in the Octagon, however. It is the only church (certainly of its size) in New Zealand to have a full stone-vaulted roof, which of course goes very nicely with its flying buttresses. Originally, it was intended to be a classic cross shaped design, with chapels off either side at the end away from the Octagon. However, due to budgetary contraints, only the nave (the main 'wing') was ever constructed. Eternally optimistic, however, it had a corrugated iron 'shed' for the chancel (although it looked, I'm told, flasher inside). In the late 60s, it was finally realised that there was never going to be a crossing (or indeed, I think there may have been a clocktower over the chancel in the original plans, much like many UK cathedrals). Thus, if you go round the back of the neo-gothic cathedral in Dunedin, you'll find that the backend is a lovely modernist concrete edifice (but probably much better than most of the campus buildings of that period).