The Quadrangle

The Clock Tower (Lobby A)

The Clock Tower was commenced in 1854 and completed in 1862.

Images are courtesy of the University Secretariat unless otherwise indicated.

Front of the Clock Tower

Rear of the Clock Tower

The rear of the Clock Tower -
photo, copyright, David White.

The front of the Clock Tower from University Place -
photo, copyright, David White.

Completion of the Tower, 1862

In 1860 the Tower had been completed except for its battlements. However, funds for this purpose were instead used to house Sir Charles Nicholson's collection of antiquities.

View a photo of the Main Building from about 1860 without turrets on the Tower.
Read a SMH report on the work needed to complete the Tower in 1862.

With an additional grant of 5000 pounds from the Government, the Tower - the turrets, the finishing work on several floors and the flight of steps leading into the Tower gateway - was completed in 1862.

One of the principal occupants of the new Tower was the Porter who lodged there for many years.

In 1861, Sir Stuart Donaldson, Fellow of Senate, gave the University a clock and bell to be placed in the Tower. The face of the clock was made by a James McCabe, of Royal Exchange Square, London in 1860. James McCabe was one of the sons of James McCabe Snr, a well respected and famous watchmaker of the time. The clock was installed on the east face of the Tower in 1862 when the turrets had been completed.


The main doorway of the Tower - internal construction, photo G3_224_MF374_0141, University of Sydney Archives - enlargement.

Blacket's sketch c1862 The Woolley clock

Sketch of the approved Tower
design by Edmund Blacket,
photo, University Archives -

The front section of the Main Building on its
completion in the early 1860s, with the Tower
in the centre, photo by Professor John Smith,
University Archives
-  enlargement

The Woolley clock -

War Memorial Carillon, 1928

The War Memorial Carillon was installed in the Clock Tower in 1928.

View images and information about the Carillon.

When the Carillon was installed in the Clock Tower, the original clock was removed. It was then housed in the Engineering Museum; in 1940 it was installed in the Wing of the Engineering School; and today it is on the south tower of the John Woolley Building opposite the Old Teachers' College building.

Rolls of Honour, 1931

In the Clock Tower entrance, two bronze Rolls of Honour were unveiled by the Governor (Sir Phillp Game) at a ceremony at 11.45am on Armistice Day, 11 November 1931, and dedicated by the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney (Dr Wright).

View images and information about the Rolls of Honour.

Decorative features

Some of the decorative features of the Clock Tower are:

  • bosses - stone carvings on string lines around the Tower - see below.
  • coats of arms on the front and back of the Tower - see below and view more images.
  • gargoyles - unusual, fantastic, mythical or eerie carved creatures around the Tower - see one below and view more gargoyles.
  • a lion finial on the roof gable at the rear of the Tower - view images.
A boss An Angel boss A kangaroo gargoyle

A boss on the front of the Tower -

An angel boss at the rear
of the Tower bearing the date 1857 -

A kangaroo gargoyle
on the front
of the Clock Tower -

Bosses and quatrefoils

Bosses on the front of the Clock Tower, and quarefoils above bearing the date "1859" - enlargement.


Shields on the rear of the Tower commemorate two chancellors - Sir Charles Blackburn and Sir Stephen Roberts (left) - and two vice-chancellors - Sir Bruce Williams and Sir Hermann Black (right), with the University arms in the centre - enlargement.