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Clocks

Front Committee Room FireplaceThe clock above the fireplace in the Front Committee Room is known as an Act of Parliament clock and was made by George Hallifax in the early 1770s at a cost of 7 guineas (£7.35p).  He was Mayor of Doncaster in 1775 and again in 1791. He was from a clock making family in Barnsley and was admitted as a Freeman of Doncaster in 1750.  An ‘Act of Parliament clock’ was a type of large wall clock originally hung in inns and taverns from the mid-18th century. In 1797, Parliament introduced a tax against clocks of five shillings.

This was introduced by the Prime Minister William Pitt in order to raise desperately needed money to help fund the war against the French. This tax proved to be extremely unpopular among clockmakers and clock owners and was repealed after only nine months. The result of the tax practically obliterated the clock trade over night. The marketplace for clocks shrunk dramatically and sales of clocks fell off considerably. Owners of clocks began to hide the clocks they owned and in some instances, they were throwing existing clocks away. As a result, tavern owners were happy to display large clocks like this in an attempt to attract patrons. The thought was that patrons would come into their establishments in order to check the time. These owners were hoping that once in the door, they would stay and patronized their establishment. Interestingly, these clocks existed before the tax was levied. They just became more popular after the tax.