Return To previous page

Victorian Alarm Clocks, an article from a magazine of the time

This appeared in a magazine of 1877. It's just like most Victorian writing - lots and LOTS of words, but once you get used to it, it's talking about a wonderful idea...
(Whether it's any good, I leave to you to decide!)
The important thing for us is that by 1877 the person writing it can write about alarm clocks knowing that the people reading it will be quite used to them.

THE GATHERER. (1877) New Aids to Early Rising. "If you do not rise early," said Lord Chatham to his nephew, "you will never make any progress worth mentioning." So let all who would cut a figure in their day and generation give heed to he following artificial methods for the enforcement of early rising.
The alarm clock is really of very little use; we soon get accustomed to it, and its jingle ceases to attract attention. Something is required of a more startling nature, and this has been devised by an ingenious inventor, who is rightly of opinion that even the most incorrigible snoozer would not continue asleep if the bed-clothes were suddenly pulled off, and a loud noise -made at the same time.
He has constructed an apparatus, consisting of a sufficiently heavy chain. When passed over a pulley, and with a string leading from the bed-clothes to the upper end of the chain. By means of a glass, shaped like a half-hour-glass, and filled with sand or water, the contrivance is set in motion at the right time; down falls the chain with a rattle to the ground, pulling the string over the pulley, and dragging the blankets off the sleeper, who will certainly waken. To recover the blankets he must rise, and being up, the recollection of Lord Chatham's advice will perhaps induce him to stay up.
The other method is equally simple. Above the inventor's mantelpiece is an ordinary American alarm clock, which he sets and winds up in the usual way, leaving the key in its place. On the end of the mantelpiece, which overhangs the foot of the bed, he balances a pile of books, the lowest of which juts out about two-thirds of its length, so that a slight additional weight on the end of the projecting book will upset them all. He then has a piece of string, with a loop at one end and a small weight at the other; the loop is placed round the extreme end of the lowest book, the weight on the alarm key, which extends outside the clock.
When the alarm goes off, the key revolves and drops the weight, and this overbalances the books; these fall on the sleeper's toes; and if he does not rise it is not for want of wakening.

BACK to previous page link to topUP to the top of this page. Return To Home Page

Copyright ©: 2000, Richard York
Version/Revised: 1.0; Sept 2000
Site URL: