A large number of reefs within the inner granitic islands of the archipelago of Seychelles could be entirely lost, unless concerted action is taken soon to control crown of thorns, warns Dr. Udo Englhardt, the expert on on the management of crown of thorns in a...
One of the most iconic historical features of Seychelles, the Victoria clock tower, is 115 years old. It is referred to locally as “Lorloz” in Creole. It was on April 1 in 1903 that the clock tower was installed in the centre of Victoria, the capital of the island nation. It was erected in memory of Queen Victoria, who died in 1901, as well as commemoration of the establishment of Seychelles as a Crown Colony in its own right. Before this, for nearly a century, the Seychelles were governed from a base of power in Mauritius.
On August 13, only four months after it was built, Seychelles was detached from Mauritius and became an independent crown colony. Ernest Bickham Sweet Escott was sworn in as the colony’s first Governor the same year.
Queen Victoria ruled the British Empire from mid-1837 until her death in early 1901, a reign that lasted 63 years and seven months. The capital city, Victoria was named in her memory as well. The clock tower was inaugurated in April 1903, by Ernest Beckham Sweet Escott, who was then the Administrator of Seychelles.
The clock was ordered by Seychelles Governor Ernest Sweet-Escort, from the same company that made the original clock tower in the British capital. The clock tower, which back then cost around $468 (about $12,300 in today’s dollars) was made of cast iron by Gillett & Johnson, a clock maker and bell foundry based in Croydon, England. A part of the money for the purchase was collected from the public, with the balance coming from the government. This clock tower was known as “Little Big Ben” because of its similarity to the clock tower of the Houses of Parliament in London.
The clock tower was an identical copy of one that was built in 1892 to honor Queen Victoria‘s diamond jubilee at the Victoria Station on Vauxhall Bridge Road in London. The clock tower arrived dismantled in nine cases by mail steamer – but not all together. On February 11, 1903, seven cases arrived, the other two having been mistakenly unloaded at Mauritius. Those arrived a month later, The clock tower was erected at the intersect of Francis Rachel Street, State House Avenue, Albert Street and Independence Avenue.
The clock tower, which was originally black, was painted lustrous silver in 1935 during celebrations to commemorate King George V’s Jubilee.
Originally, the clock was expected to chime, but sadly failed to do so. Now the Clock Tower was more than just a sublime structure with Corinthian motifs and Victorian heraldry. People used the clock to know the time of the day. Today, however, the Victoria clock regularly strikes the hour, having had its mechanism completely replaced in 1999 by a modern, quartz master clock by the original manufacturer, Gillett and Johnson. The repair included the replacement of the spring loaded mechanism by an electrical one. The cost of repair was partly funded by public donation. This popular landmark is also called by the name of “mini Big Ben”. Little Ben is a cast iron miniature clock tower, situated at the intersection of Vauxhall Bridge Road and Victoria Street, in Westminster, central London, close to the approach to Victoria station. In design it mimics the famous clock tower colloquially known as Big Ben at the Palace of Westminster, found at the other end of Victoria Street.
Apart from some minor cosmetic changes (namely updating lamps) and maintenance to keep it running, the Victoria Clock Tower has stood silent guard in the middle of this capital city as the world around it has changed. When it was erected in 1903, the city of Victoria was dominated by wooden buildings with corrugated iron roofs and verandas. Now the capital is a vibrant, modern city with multi-story buildings of concrete, glass and steel. Internet cafes and five star hotels line the streets of this humble capital city. All the while, the national landmark has stood the test of time and served as a monument to a monarch who passed away more than a century ago.
Near the clock tower, you can find banks, the post office, the Palace of Justice, and the Pirates Arms snack restaurant on Independence Avenue. Sir Selwyn Clarke Market is only 5 minutes walk from the clock tower.