Report number: 16/2017

Title ‘The Time Ball, The Guildhall, Kingston-upon-Hull: History, Context and Significance
Summary Since 1915, a time ball has surmounted the clock tower of Hull’s Guildhall, a Grade-II*-listed building (National Heritage List for England 1279708). The Guildhall, built between 1905 and 1915, is located on Alfred Gelder Street; its entrance elevation and the principal face of the tower looks towards Lowgate. The architect Sir Edwin Cooper (1874-1942) added the time ball to the Guildhall’s design in 1914-15 at the request of the Corporation of the City and County of Kingston-upon-Hull. This report forms part of the consultation between Hull City Council and Historic England to see how the time ball can be restored to working order. The report was commissioned by Kerry Babington, Inspector of Historic Buildings and Areas, Planning Group, Historic England. Time balls – particularly surviving and working ones – are unusual structures. This report seeks to set Hull’s time ball within its historical context, considering the wider history of time balls from their introduction at Greenwich in 1833 and their adoption across the world to their obsolescence in the early 20th century. It discusses how Sir Edwin Cooper’s design of the tower changed once the time ball was decided upon by the Corporation and how the time ball was constructed in the early years of the First World War when the Guildhall was finally completed, as well as the challenges experienced in making it work. It then considers the significance of Hull’s time ball.
Series Research Department Reports
Pages 51
  • Jessop, L
Keywords Building Investigation ,  Building Recording ,  Modern ,  Standing Building ,  Standing Structure