1 February 1895 – The Day Time Stood Still in South Australia

At midnight on 1 February 1895, clocks were stopped, and time stood still in South Australia so as to bring the State (or colony as it was then) into line with international standard times.

Actually this was an Australia-wide change as up to this time, each colony had followed their own time set at a local observatory in their capital city.

A long article in the  South Australian Register, Thursday 31 January 1895, starts off with the following:

To-night the process of marking that period which Hamlet calls ‘the very witching time of night’ will be exceptionally puzzling throughout the greater part of Australia. By the provisions of the Standard Time Act the Legislatures of five colonies have taken the liberty of declaring that an hour shall not be sixty minutes in duration, but something else, varying in different localities with the ‘ hour-zone’ in which those localities happen to lie. Thus, in South Australia the space from 11 o’clock till 12 p.m. of this 31st of January will be seventy four minutes twenty and two fifth seconds. In other words all clocks and watches, in order that they may indicate the correct time to-morrow, must be put back fourteen minutes twenty and two-fifth seconds.”

So as far as South Australia was concerned the clocks stopped at midnight for 14 minutes and 20 seconds, bringing it in line with the 135th meridian, and adopting Central Standard Time.

The article continues …

“In this colony we have to put our clocks back, and therefore we gain time; but in Victoria, as in New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania, the people are to lose time and the Victorians in particular do not appear to relish the idea, although, of course, it is a nominal loss and nothing more … “

The eastern states actually only lost 5 minutes, bringing it in line with the 150th meridian.

“The main fact now to be borne in mind by commercial men and the general public is that the time of all the eastern colonies will henceforward be exactly one hour ahead of that of South Australia …”

So it is true to say that back in 1895, time in Adelaide, or more precisely South Australia, really did stay still!

General Post Office with the very prominent clock tower, King William Street, Adelaide, 1885 [State Library of South Australia, ref: B-43013]

2 Responses to “1 February 1895 – The Day Time Stood Still in South Australia”

  1. Isabel Flynn says:

    Cute angle for your story which I enjoyed

    • Alona says:

      I love the little tidbits of history, and when I read a sentence about the clocks in SA stopping, it made me look further and discover the story.

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