London's Strangest Clock

By M@ Last edited 21 months ago

Last Updated 30 September 2022

London's Strangest Clock

Where in central London can you find a clock that features rotating discs, a rampant goat and a former prime minister masquerading as a sun god?


Bracken House is a sturdy post-war office block on Cannon Street, just opposite St Paul's. This gigantic astronomical clock guards the entrance. Its rotating dials show the minutes, hours, days, months and zodiacal signs.

And, right there in the middle, is the face of Winston Churchill.

It really is Winnie. The building is named after Brendan Bracken, a key ally of Churchill during the second world war. The statesman's grimacing countenance was built into the clock in 1959, by designers Frank Dobson and Philip Bentham, in a nod to this relationship.

Was it the inspiration for the Teletubbies' Sun Baby?

Bracken and Churchill have other connections, played out in the pages of George Orwell's 1984. During the second world war, Bracken ran the Ministry of Information, inspiration for Orwell's Ministry of Truth. He also shares his initials with Big Brother. The novel's protagonist is called Winston. We'd love to know: does Bracken House contain a Room 101?

The building contains still more symbolism. Notice the colour of the stone:

Bracken House was designed as the headquarters of the Financial Times, which Bracken refounded in 1945. The coloured facade is as a deliberate nod to that newspaper's famously pink pages (it looks pinker in real life, honest).

Sadly, the FT decamped to Southwark in the 1980s. For over 30 years it inhabited this thing:

But then, in 2018, the newspaper returned to Bracken House. The Financial Times is be back in the Square Mile, back in the building that matches its colour, and back beneath the gaze of Apollo-Churchill and the strangest clock in London.

All photos by M@, apart from the Teletubbies Sun Baby, who was unavailable for a portrait.