The New York Times features Edinburgh’s Floral Clock

May 27, 2024 Uncategorized

We’re thrilled to be featured in The New York Times’ recent article on Edinburgh’s Floral Clock.

Members of our team Craig Park and Ben Rice took the time to speak with Sandra Jordan from the New York Times, and explained our involvement through James Ritchie of Edinburgh.

Here below is a section from the article, which can be read in full at

Snippet from the New York Times article:

Spring Means It’s Time to Plant Edinburgh’s Floral Clock

The Scottish capital has maintained this mix of horology and horticulture since its installation in 1903.

The clock’s original works were made by the Ritchie business, which in 2013 was split into two divisions, both of which were sold. The public clock division was purchased by Smith of Derby, an English clock company, and continues to operate as a kind of subsidiary with the name James Ritchie of Edinburgh. The other division, the restoration of domestic antique clocks and watches, is called James Ritchie Clockmakers and now owned by Jon Reglinski.

The mechanism of Edinburgh’s Floral Clock has been altered or replaced several times over the decades. The cuckoo was added in 1953, and the clock was converted to electricity in 1973.

By 2017, according to Smith of Derby, the works in use at the time had reached the end of their life span and parts were no longer available, so its team upgraded the hands mechanism and cuckoo’s electronic drive.

The clock is still using that configuration, powered by a standard direct-drive motor housed in the plinth of the Allan Ramsay Monument, a statue of an 18th-century Scottish poet that stands near the clock. A 14-foot rod runs underground from the motor to a gear box under the spindle, powering the hands’ rotation.

Craig Park, a clock engineer with Smith’s James Ritchie of Edinburgh subsidiary, keeps almost all of Scotland’s public clocks, including the Floral Clock, in working order. In fact, an earsplitting chime that marked the quarter-hour disrupted a telephone interview while he was working in the turret of the Old Parish Church in Peebles.

He had visited the Floral Clock shortly before the gardeners started planting. First, he inspected the equipment in the Ramsay statue’s base and made sure that the hands would rotate.

“The gardener digs a hole over the bevel gears so I can check all the gearing,” he said. “Then I put the hands on and watch them for an hour or so to make sure there’s no problem.”

Read the article in full at:

About the author

Nicholas Whitworth: