The Albert clock is one of the many attractions present in Northern Ireland. It is visited by many tourists every day. The Albert clock has sometimes been described by the people of Ireland as being equivalent to the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy.
Albert Clock Belfast General Characteristics
Situated at Queens Square
Completed in 1869
Designed by William.J.Barre.
Around 113 feet high (debated)
Made of Sandstone.
It is not open to the public.
Since it is not open for the public to enter there is no entry fee.
The Albert Clock has been described as Belfast Historian Fred Heatley as being the equivalent to The leaning tower of Pisa at Italy. It has been one of the best known landmarks of Italy since then. It was made as a memorial to Queen Victorias Prince Consort King Albert and also to offer one enterprising sightseer a view of the launching of the Titanic.
The term Prince Consort as was used to describe the late King Albert is usually a term used to describe the spouse of Royalty who is not himself blue blooded in his own right. In certain cases the term King Consort may also be used. There are no official rules regarding the same however the term prince consort is the one that is usually used most commonly. It is however necessary that the title be given or conferred to the holder by their spouse.
This is usually done in a ceremony that is very similar to what is done while knighting an individual. In this particular case, the title was given to him by Queen Victoria in 1857. A more recent instance of the same would be Prince Henrik being given the title by Queen Margaret II of Denmark in 2005. The clock was supposed to mark their affection for each other and of his memory of carrying out his duties fully although he was not really a member of Royalty by blood.
History of the Clock tower, its architecture and selection process.
The way they came to the decision of how they would select the individual who would design this important structure was also an interesting one. It was announced to be a competition within the state where different architects would send in the design that they had created and the best one would not only have the honour of having the structure built according to their design but would win a cash prize as well.
There were however politics involved in the making of this decision as well since although it was won by one person another person was initially selected. The person who was initially selected was this partnership called Laynon Lynn and Laynon. They managed this because they had a pull in the parliament due to Lynn being a member! This was unfair because it was William Barre who had actually won it.
This led to a major outcry on his behalf and he finally managed to get his way and it was his design that was accepted. The construction cost of the project was estimated to be around 2500 Euros and was raised by public subscription. William J Barre was also already known for constructing the Ulster Hall in Belfast.
This building has been designed in the German Gothic style and it is attributed to be by Barrs Assistant Charlie Sherrie. It has a statue of King Albert and next to it is the sandstone memorial. It is said that King Albert only ever visited Belfast with his wife once and that even the queen never really got to see the monument once it was built. The statue of the Prince is robed in the same robes worn by the Knights of Garter. The Knight of Garter is the noblest endowment of Chivalry. It is also known as the Order of the Garter.
It is dedicated to the image and arms of St. George as Englands Patron saint. It is bestowed on members from British and other Commonwealth realms. It is a pinnacle of the honours system in the United Kingdom. The membership of this order is limited to the sovereign the prince of Wales and no more than 25 members. The main symbol is on insignia with is the printed words Honi Soit Qui Mal y pense which means evil to him whom evil thinks. Hence donning the statue in those robes is mainly symbolic of endowing this highest honour on him.
The Sandstone memorial was constructed between 1865 and 1869 by the Flitzpatrick brothers. It was made in a mixture of the French and Gothic styles of architecture. The base of the tower features flying buttresses with the image of a Heralding Lion. Apart from looking magnificent the Lion is also said to be a sign of power as the Lion is considered to be the king of Beasts. The statue of the prince was sculpted by a sculptor called S.F Lynn. A two tonne bell is also housed in the clock tower.
During the making of the clock tower, the people of the city were said to have been very particular of what exactly the bell would end up sounding like. They were said to have specified a particular pitch of the sound. They wanted to make sure that it would neither be too loud to disturb the peace of the quiet little town or too soft to make the existence of the bell pointless. They finally decided upon the right pitch and the kind of sound with a trial one evening.
This made selecting the person who would make the bell also an extra important one as it required a good amount of skill. They finally decided upon Francis Moore of High street Belfast.
An important thing that must be brought to notice here is the location of Belfast with regard to the river Francis. The Farcis is a river in Belfast and a tributary of the River Lagan. It used to flow through what is the area of Belfast currently but is contained by a tunnel. The tunnel is supposed to be big enough to contain a bus. The name of the city of Belfast in fact is derived from the river Farset..
Belfast was founded at a sandy ford across the Farcet and thats where it gets its name from Beal Fierste. The word Farcis itself means sandbar in Irish. The Albert clock was made on land that was reclaimed from the river.
The structure was built on wooden planks. These wooden planks were placed on the reclaimed land. The foundation for the structure was then built over this. The land being reclaimed was very marshy. Reclaimed land usually tends to be too much like quicksand to make any strong structures or even to make structures that will stand tall and withstand years. It is due to this that the Albert clock tower started leaning a little bit to the right side. This was a major cause of concern initially. As with the Leaning tower of Pisa which the clock tower has been repeatedly compared with, the people of the town started to feel concerned with the fact that it was tilting towards one side.
They were worried that this would lead to the clock tower eventually falling and then causing large scale destruction as well as loss of life. This has obviously not happened so far as the clock tower still stands tall and serves as a major tourist attraction for most of the people of Belfast. They have however tried to reduce the leaning by reducing the weight of the tower. In 1924 some of the ornamental work was removed off the Belfry as well as the stone Canopy of the prince.
As of now the amount that it is leaning off the perpendicular is calculated to be around 4 feet. It has become a very attractive square with trees, fountains and statues that have made it very similar to the times square.