A cannon at Morpeth Dock, Birkenhead was fired remotely from Bidston Observatory at one o'clock each working day, triggered electrically by a specially adapted Robert Molyneux clock. On the dockside, the cannon, a relic of the Crimean wars, was loaded, and at 12.30pm each working day a member of staff tested the connection between the clock at the Observatory and the cannon. At one second to one o'clock the switch would be thrown at the Observatory, the firing being triggered by the next swing of the clock's pendulum. On clear days the flash could be spotted from across the Mersey.
This service was performed from 1867 until July 18th 1969, apart from a break during the Second World War. An extra firing heralded the start of the 20th century. An attempt was made to scrap the time signal in 1932, partly because it was no longer necessary, due to the advent of radio, but also because of the cost of maintenance of the gun, said to be approximately one hundred pounds a year. There was a public outcry at the prospect of the ending of this tradition, so the War Office provided a new cannon, a 32 pounder from Woolwich Arsenal, which arrived on April 26th 1933.
There are other One O'Clock guns around the world, including one in Edinburgh that is still fired today, or so I believe.
|exposure mode||full manual|