The Cape Town Clock

An old South African story

Some swear it actually happened. Read on…

An English visitor to Cape Town thought he’d walk up Signal Hill and watch the firing of the canon which goes off every day to signify to all that it is twelve o’clock noon.

He reached the canon a few minutes early and nobody was there. A minute later a Landrover roared up carrying a soldier and a corporal. The soldier immediately primed the canon and waited. The corporal stayed in the Landrover and looked down into Cape Town through his binoculars. He gave a hand signal and the gun fired.

I wandered over and asked the corporal how did he know it was noon? He said there was a jewellers in a street in between Adderley Street and George Street with a clock outside which was famous for keeping accurate time. And the canon is fired on the clock reaching noon.

That afternoon the Englishman thought he’d take a look and photograph the clock. Upon the third street in between the two main streets he came across the jewellers shop with the big clock outside. He photographed it and the jeweller came outside. “That clock is known throughout the whole of South Africa as being a famous time keeper” he said. I asked how this information was arrived at. The jeweller said that every day, when the noon canon was fired, the clock read exactly noon.