The Emett Clock is a Nottingham institution - but shoppers have one problem with it

The Emett Clock is a beloved Nottingham landmarkThe Emett Clock is a beloved Nottingham landmark
The Emett Clock is a beloved Nottingham landmark | Nottingham World / Ria Ghei
The iconic clock was first installed in the Victoria Centre in 1973

If you’re Nottingham born and bred, then chances are you’ll have walked past the Emett Clock at some point. 

The 23ft clock has been housed in the city’s Victoria Centre since 1973 (apart from a brief 18-month absence - but more on that later). 

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Officially named The Aqua Horological Tintinnabulator, the water-powered clock was designed and created by sculptor Rowland Emett. 

READ MORE: Your Nottingham

Between 1973 and 2014, the clock was installed on the lower mall of the Victoria Centre, close to Boots and Next. 

During its 41-year stint on the ground floor, the clock was located within a wishing well. 

Shoppers, particularly children, would throw coins into the wishing well in hope that their dreams would come true. 

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In 2009, £7,000 was collected from the wishing well - most of which was donated to Guide Dogs for the Blind. 

A 2010 report from the BBC estimated that as much as £250,000 had been thrown into the well since 1973. 

The Emett Clock in its original position on the Victoria Centre’s lower mallThe Emett Clock in its original position on the Victoria Centre’s lower mall
The Emett Clock in its original position on the Victoria Centre’s lower mall | Zoe Clarke/Flickr

By 2013, however, some parts of the clock had stopped working or had been lost. 

In February 2014, the clock was dismantled by Nottingham-born engineer Peter Dexter and taken away to be refurbished. 

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During its 18 months away from the Victoria Centre, the clock formed part of an Emett exhibition in Birmingham. 

In June 2015 the clock, which opens up every 15 minutes, returned to the Victoria Centre in a new location on the upper mall. 

A new home for the iconic clock sparks debate

The decision to move the clock from its original position on the lower mall was subject to criticism from shoppers. 

For more than 40 years the clock was used by thousands as a meeting place, but since 2015 shoppers have been left without such a designated point of reference on the ground floor. 

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The Emett Clock is visually exciting to look at! The Emett Clock is visually exciting to look at!
The Emett Clock is visually exciting to look at! | Nottingham World/Ria Ghei

Besides Nottingham’s Brian Clough and Robin Hood statues, the Emett Clock was, during its time on the lower mall, one of the city’s much-loved landmarks. 

In 2023, the clock turned 50 years old. Nine years after its return to the shopping centre after an 18-month absence, some locals still feel the iconic structure should return to its original location.

"Committed to keeping the legacy alive"

Nigel Wheatley, centre director at Victoria Centre, said: “The Emett Clock, designed by famous cartoonist and constructor, Roland Emett, is a much-loved and treasured part of our centre and the wider city.

“Since it was installed over 50 years ago, it has played an important part in so many of our shoppers’ lives – for some, in fact, the clock’s chimes sounded the start of life-long friendships and even engagements.

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“While we know the position of the clock has moved over time, from its original home on the lower mall, we’re proud to say it’s being lovingly maintained by a dedicated team, where it now sits in its current home on the upper mall. Our teams are committed to keeping the legacy of the clock alive, so it can continue to be at the heart of shoppers now and in the future.”

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