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Why does a clock in Bristol have 3 hands?

England is a great place because it is full of quirky, strange and interesting things and you can always find something to surprise you. To bump into something which is strange, even for the English themselves, is absurd and unbelievable.

How come a clock can have two minute hands?

We all know the Sun rises earlier in the East and sets in the West. Therefore, there can be even 30 minutes difference between the local times in England due to big distances. This was not a big of a problem whilst people lived their lives locally and did not really leave their home towns or villages. This all changed when the Great Western Railway started their line from London to Bristol in 1841. The main benefit of the steam train was that the journey did not take days any longer, but a few hours only. The local time in Reading was 4 minutes, 11 minutes in Bristol and 18 minutes in Exeter behind the London local time. As a result there were interesting railway timetables in England before the Railway adopted the standard GMT timetable.

There are two minute hands on the clock of the Corn Exchange in Bristol.

The red one showed the London time, the black one the local time. The GWR wanted to harmonize the timetables and adjusted everything to the London time. Therefore, if passengers wanted to catch the 8:30am train to London they had to be there before 8:19am in Bristol. Having two minute hands on clocks  helped people to manage time and timetables and more importantly their lives. This was carried on until 1852 when Bristol gave in and adopted GMT. All in all, this is why there are two minute hands on this clock in Bristol.

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