The 1pm siren since 1874

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If it’s one o’clock and there is a siren sounding, the chances are you are in the centre of Sheffield and close to HL Brown’s Barker’s Pool head office.

The signal – although not necessarily in the form of a siren - has been a feature of city life since at least 1874, when clocks and watches were less reliable than they are today and when the time they showed could vary by as much as 30 minutes across the country.

HL Brown’s time signal was linked directly to Greenwich, home to one of the first public time signals – originally intended for ships on the Thames.

The signal was relayed to HL Brown in Sheffield for the first time by the miracle of the telegraph, so that the company could ensure the clock it used to set customers’ timepieces by was set to Greenwich Mean Time and the people of Sheffield could set their watches.

The link to Greenwich is no longer necessary to keep the siren sounding as regular – or maybe more regular - as clockwork at 1pm.