Intricate and Idiosyncratic Design Celebrated

The Tasmanian Heritage Council is continuing to improve the quality of entries in the Tasmanian Heritage Register, including the entry of the Ulverstone Memorial Clock.

Known as 'The Clock', the memorial is prominently located at the junction of Risby Street, Alexandra Road, and Reibey Street – the highest point of the town centre.

A World War One memorial in the form of a stone obelisk, with marble panels listing those who served and figure of a soldier with a bayonet atop, has existed on the site since Anzac Day 1924.

Following World War Two a committee was set up to establish a memorial to those who served in the conflict.  The proposals included club-rooms for the RSL, memorial gardens and a town clock atop a tower. In 1946 a scheme to erect a memorial clock at the bottom end of Reibey Street was accepted by the citizens of Ulverstone. However, budget constraints and a shortage of building materials following World War Two halted progress on the project. By 1950 alternative sites for the memorial were considered in an attempt to reduce the cost of construction, and it was decided to construct the memorial tower where the World War One memorial stood.

Mr Cvetko Florian Mejac, an architect, civil engineer and Slovenian migrant, prepared new plans for the memorial clock tower free of charge as a gift to the town and country of his adoption. The design was heavily based on symbolism, Mejac commented 'The symbol of the monument combines history of time and life ie. books, clock and flame'. The design incorporated the original World War One memorial.

The three piers of the clock present as three open books representing the history of events. In turn, each 'book' represents one of the three armed services, with the large copper chains joining the books denoting the unity of the services. The 'pages' of the book are formed by rows of glass panels, with the 36 names of the fallen listed on marble boards fixed to the base of the glass panels. On top of the piers sit a clock and a large glass 'flame of remembrance' which illuminated at night from within an electric light.

Construction of the memorial clock tower began on 30 July 1953. A group of 10 volunteers, including a number of Eastern European migrants, built the structure in 123 days. The team of workers dug the foundations by hand and used one cement mixer to produce approximately 22 cubic metres of cement. The project progressed steadily until completion on 5 January 1954, in time for the Royal visit of Queen Elizabeth II. The 'most intricate and idiosyncratic embellishment of an original memorial' was unveiled on Australia Day in 1954.

The Clock's entry in the Heritage Register celebrates its significance “a prominent landmark valued by the community for its visual contribution to the streetscape and practical amenity to Ulverstone. The site has strong and special meaning to the region as the site of ANZAC, Remembrance, ceremonial services and other commemorative events since 1924. The Memorial Clock demonstrates Tasmania's involvement in the two major wars of the twentieth century, and was designed and largely constructed by Slovenian migrants, contributing to the wider story of post-war migration and their contribution to Tasmania's built environment."

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