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Clock Tower in Table Bay Docks
Cape Town, Western Cape

Henry [Harry] Sidon GREAVES: Supervising Architect 1883
GABRIËL FAGAN ARCHITECTS: Restoration Architect 1997

Date:1883 : 1997


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33°54'23.60" S 18°25'19.93" E Alt: 2m

Transcription of information board:


The three-storeyed red Clock Tower with its pointed Gothic windows and handsome clock imported from Edinburgh became a landmark as soon as it was completed in 1882 as the first Port Captain’s office. But it was a functional building in spite of its unique beauty.

On the ground floor was something few people knew about: the top of a well-like tidal gauge which indicated the exact height of the tide at any given time for the benefit of ships entering or leaving the docks, while the top floor was lined with mirrors so the Port Captain could observe everything that went on in the surrounding docks merely by moving his eyes. There was also a reading room for ships’ captains.

In 1904 the Port Captain moved across the Cut to the new offices erected on the Pierhead, itself a fine example of the Arts and Crafts school of architecture.

In 1997 and 1998 the Clock Tower was restored by the historical architects Gwen and Gavie Fagan, the Edinburgh clock was refurbished and layers of grey paint were painstakingly peeled off to determine the tower’s original colour – today’s eye catching red.

Did you know?

Over the years the Clock Tower has begun to lean slightly to one side. Today it is about 50mm – more or less the width of a cell phone – out of plumb. But a set of brass pins has been inserted in the brickwork of the building to ensure that any further movement can easily be spotted.

Previously a National Monument it is now a Provincial Heritage Site.

Writings about this entry

Fransen, Hans. 1978. Guide to the Museums of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Galvin & Sales (Pty) Ltd, for the Southern African Museums Association. pg 33-34
Gaylard, Shaun & McDougall, Brett . 2022. RSA 365 : 365 Drawings of South African Architecture. Johannesburg: Blank Ink Design. pg 56 ill
Ingpen, Brian . 2021. Cape Town’s Dockland. Cape Town: Brian Ingpen. pg
Walker, Michael. 2012. Early architects of Cape Town and their buildings (1820 - 1926) with postcard illustrations, The. St James: Michael Walker. pg 27