27 Jul 2011

ON THE THIRD STROKE IT WILL BE .........

I've had several family members, friends and blogger buddies all celebrating their birthdays this month BUT here's one I missed .......


That great UK institution, The Speaking Clock was 75 years old on Sunday.

Started in 1936, the Speaking Clock has been ticking away 24 hours a day, seven days a week, receiving up to approximately 70 million calls a year (according to TELEPHONES UK)though the latest figures suggest a mere 30 million, the accuracy correct to within five thousandths of a second, it is used by Big Ben to check its own accuracy.

Initially available only in the London area, it wasn't until 1942 that it went nationwide, the Speaking Clock was designed at the Post Office Engineering Research Station to assist those without watches, the announcements originally co-ordinated on the hour with the Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) signals.


Not just a means to check the time though, the Speaking Clock service was also a key part in the UK's national attack warning system during the Cold War. Once the clock had been rolled out nationally, it had a secure communications loop linking major telephone exchanges. This loop was to be used as a way of spreading the attack message around the country.


Throughout this seventy-five year history there have only been four permanent 'Voices'.

Starting with today's voice of 'the clock', competition winner Sara Mendes da Costa, we will travel back to 1936 and the first voice, also a competition winner, Jane Cain.

With a total of 18,500 entrants raising more than £200,000 for charity, Sara Mendes da Costa became the 4th permanent Voice of the Speaking Clock at 8AM on the 2nd of April 2007.

Voice 3 belonged to Brian Cobby. Selected from 12 finalists in British Telecom's Golden Voice competition, Brian is the only man to voice the clock permanently. Starting at 11AM on the 2nd of April 1985, he finished at 8AM on the 2nd of April 2007.

Pat Simmons - the 2nd permanent Voice, 1963 until 1984.

Serving between the 24th of July 1936 until 1963, Jane Cain became the first permanent Voice after winning a competition to find the Right Voice. Also part of her prize, 10 guineas (approximately £10.50 in today's money.)

The only four permanent Voices but there have been several others including ........


Comedian, Lenny Henry voiced The Clock, raising approximately £200,000 for the charity Comic Relief between 9AM on the 10th of March 2003 and 12 noon on the 23rd of March 2003.

 The 13th of October 2003 saw Scottish schoolgirl Alicia Roland become the voice of the Speaking Clock for a week. The first time that a Scottish accent and a child's voice had been used, Alicia spoke those famous words "at the third stroke." 


To listen to recordings of all four permanent voices click on the Telephones Uk link. 


AND ......


Talking of time things are quite hectic here in the Petty Witter household at the moment so apologies that I may not be posting as often or visiting you as I usually would.

10 comments:

Vivienne said...

I never knew there was so much to know about the speaking clock. I had presumed it had been the same voice since it started.

Misha said...

So much of interesting info! Thanks for sharing it with us, Tracy.

Arti said...

Very interesting post Tracy... Never heard of this speaking clock!!
Have a fabulous week ahead:)

Dizzy C said...

And how many folks have dialled the speaking clock as a cover for not actually ringing anyone? LOL

Hope things calm down for you soon.

carol

anilkurup said...

Speaking Parrot- yes.
Speaking clock!! interesting revelations thanks.

naida said...

Happy Birthday to The Speaking Clock! I'd never heard of that before.

Kelly said...

This is quite interesting!!

Hoping the activities at your home are pleasant ones!

awitchtrying said...

That's kinda strange, I've never heard of it before.

R. Ramesh said...

interesting ya...

Jenners said...

I wonder if these people are recognized for being the voice of the clock. It must weird some people out when they talk to them ... or I wonder if they have a special voice they use when they do clock stuff. You always have the most interesting stories.

By the way, I'm just back from vacation and getting caught up with blogs. I'm reading/skimming most of the posts but just leaving everyone one comment or I'll never get caught up. Thanks for understanding.