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P.O. ENGINEERING DEPT.

MISCELLANEOUS
ENGINEERING INSTRUCTIONS TIME
MARKINGS AND CODES

UNDERSTANDING THE GPO MARKINGS

Almost every item produced by the G.P.O. had a code Table 1 below lists the codes from manufactures
marking. This is very useful when trying to find out more associated with the supply of clocks and watches.
about it. As far as clock related items go, there are two
types of markings. The earlier type was used up until the CODE MANUFACTURER
late 1930’s. Anything produced after this period came
with a revised marking. BAU Heuer Watches
BK Magneta Time Co. Ltd.
Earlier Type - Below is an example of an earlier type BKB Magneta Time Co. Ltd.
marking. BQ Stockhall Marples & Co.
BQB Stockhall Marples & Co.
BT Prescot clock & Mechanical Co.
DC 27 BTR Blibk Time Recorders Ltd.

——— No 4 CG H.W.Williams (Clocks & watches)

235 DC
DCA
Synchronome Co. Ltd, Middlesex
Synchronome Co. Ltd, Middlesex
Here, ‘DC’ (Can be one, two or three letters.) is the SYN Synchronome Co. (Late production)
manufactures code. Referring to Table 1, we see that this
clock was manufactured by the Synchronome Company. ECS English Clock Systems (Smith’s)
’27’ (1927) is the year of manufacture. The ‘No 4’ is the EFW F.W. Elloit
items model number. This code was stamped on a clock, EN The British Time Recorder Co. Ltd.
it therefore tells us that we are looking at a Clock No. 4. ENA The British Time Recorder Co. Ltd.

As specifications changed, so the ‘Mark’ or ‘Revision’ FBR GPO Factory, Birmingham


number would increase. For some reason, the G.P.O. FHR GPO Factory, Holloway, London
started these early codes with a mark number of 234. In FNR GPO Factory, Edinburgh
the code above, ‘235’ indicates that this design has had FWR GPO Factory, Cwmcarn, Wales
one revision to the original specification. In the later code
shown below, this is just listed as ‘2’ or sometimes as
GGW Nero Lamania Watches
‘MK 2’
GJ Gillet & Johnston, often marked G&J
GM (Unknown Swiss Watch manufacturer)
Later Type - Below is an example of a later type
GMA (Unknown Swiss Watch manufacturer)
marking.
IT International Time Recorder Ltd.
64A OAA 64/2 O Gent & Co. of Leicester
OAA Gent & Co. of Leicester
In the later markings, the information is mostly the same,
but in a re-arranged format. The number of the item
comes first, in this case it is a Clock No. 64A. The ZE Zenith Watch Co. Ltd. (GB)
manufactures code OAA indicates Gent’s of Leicester. ZEA Zenith Watch Co. Ltd. (GB)
The year is next, here we see ’64’ indicating the year
Table 1 - Manufactures codes
1964, and then comes the newer style mark or revision
number, which in this case is a Mark 2 design. See more manufactures codes by clicking here
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Issue 3, Sep. 2012
P.O. ENGINEERING DEPT. MISCELLANEOUS
ENGINEERING INSTRUCTIONS TIME
MARKINGS AND CODES

Generally, the original marking is intact, but there are ‘F’ at the end and this additional letter was specific to
occasions where it has been either partly or completely telephones. The ‘F’ meant that the dial had figures
obscured. This usually occurred if the item was returned (numbers only) whereas an ‘L” would denote a dial with
to the G.P.O.’s Factories Division to be refurbished, letters and figures.
rebuilt or repaired, especially if the item was upgraded to
a newer version or model. Now we will examine the later type markings. In Fig. 3
we can see the marking on the back of a Clock No. 62A.
First, we will take a look at a couple of examples of the In this case, there is also the owner’s initials, ‘G.P.O.’
earlier markings., the first of which is shown in Fig. 1. Below this is the main marking, starting with the model
Gillet & Johnston made this early No. 4 clock, and they No. which in this case is ‘62A’ .
have obviously got away by using their own ‘G&J’ stamp
for the manufacturers code, instead of the specified
letters ‘GJ’!

Fig. 3

Next comes the manufactures code letter(s). Referring to


Fig. 1 - Early markings Table 1, we can see that this clock was manufactured by
Gents of Leicester. The year comes next; 1961 in this
G&J is the manufacturer, 27 is the year. Under this is the case; and lastly is the revision or mark number.
mark number, and as explained above, mark numbers
started from 234, then continued 235, 236, 237, etc. The
part to the right is the clock No.

These early codes are more widely seen on wooden


telephones and bell sets from the 1920’s to early 30‘s.
Maybe you have an old telephone? Just to show that the
early scheme was the same for telephone equipment, Fig.
2 shows a similar marking to the Clock No. 4, but this is Fig. 4
from a telephone No. 162
Fig. 4 shows a slightly earlier manufactures code. This is
a Bakelite cased clock No. 4A. It was made in 1938 and
is a mark 1 version. Due to the year, Gent & Co. is shown
just as an ‘O’ instead of the later ‘OAA’

Fig. 2- from a telephone

Here, the ‘S’ stands for Siemens, the manufacturer, and as


in the above example; this is followed by the year (in this
case, 1932), with the mark number below them. the
telephone model (No. 162) follows that. There is also an Fig. 5
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Issue 3, Sep. 2012
P.O. ENGINEERING DEPT. MISCELLANEOUS
ENGINEERING INSTRUCTIONS TIME
MARKINGS AND CODES

This next example (Fig. 5) comes from a metal cased


standard seconds indicating GPO clock. Again, refer to
the previous example, and you can work out who made it.
Try this one yourself before checking the answer below.

O.K., hopefully you came up with a Clock No.28, made


by Gent’s in 1952, this clock being a mark 1!

Well that was the easy part, but now it becomes a little
more complicated. Take a look at Fig. 6 below, and you
will see what i mean!

Fig. 7

Fig. 6 The markings on the lower plate are as follows: ’36


DCA 62/6’ with ‘DGM. G.M.T. 39/2’ below. As we have
Apart from having to guess the year, this is a Gent’s now learnt, the clock is a No. 36, made by Synchronome
Clock No. 70A, mark 2, or rather... it was, but the label in 1962 and it is a mark 6. the second line just means that
below tells us more. Notice the ‘PO FDI B/S’? This it was wired in accordance with Diagram GMT 39/2.
translates as ‘Post Office, Factories DIvision, Built from
Scratch. This means that the clock was sent back to one
of the GPO factories for a total rebuild. The Numbers
‘324’ are similar to the older mark or revision number,
showing that this was the first rebuild of this clock.

The GPO factories did manufacture a lot of stuff


including telephones, but as far as the GPO clocks were
concerned, they only repaired or refurbished them
(although I believe they may have had a hand in the first
speaking clock.). The second line, ‘FBR 79/2‘ shows us
that it was sent to the factory at Birmingham in 1979. The
‘/2‘ shows that although the clock had a total rebuild, it
remained a mark 2.

Having mentioned differences in markings, we come to Fig. 8 - A slight mix-up!


things like master clocks and the GMT 34 & 35 clock
units. These items had circuit diagrams associated with Earlier master clocks did not have a plate on the inside
them, unlike the slave clocks which just consisted of a but had the markings stamped into the wood on the back
coil, terminating on two connectors, so the diagram of the clock. In Fig. 8 we see an earlier Clock No. 36,
number was added to the markings on these items as where the marking is located near the top right hand
shown on the lower plate in Fig. 7, The upper plate being corner of the back of the clock. For some reason, a
the manufacturers own identification. mistake seems to have been made as this one is
somewhat hybrid. Although the 36 is correct, as is the

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Issue 3, Sep. 2012
P.O. ENGINEERING DEPT. MISCELLANEOUS
ENGINEERING INSTRUCTIONS TIME
MARKINGS AND CODES

‘O’ for Gent’s, they seem to have placed the mark


number next, with the year of manufacture as 1940. The
two instances of the number ’26’ are Gent’s own
markings and refer to the number of each clock in the
batch.

Fig. 9 - Refurbished Clock No. 36

Here, an unknown clock 36 has been sent to the factory at


Birmingham to be refurbished, hence the ‘FBR’ the year
was 1979 and it was returned as a mark 6, to Diagram
GMT 39/2. It was stripped completely and then built
from scratch (B/S). this was it’s first rebuild and was Fig. 12 (Try both plates but ignore ‘QC/LF’.)
given the mark number 324 (Mark 1). This printed label
even includes the word ‘Clock’. O.K., the answers!
If you do want to find out about a clock, maybe one you Fig. 10 - Clock 70A, Made by Synchronome in 1962, and
are considering purchasing, or one in your collection,
then you may like to practise on Figures 10, 11 & 12. The it is a mark 1 version.
answers are at the end of this article.
Fig. 9 - Another Synchronome, this time a clock No.
64A, made in 1966 as a mark 2.

Fig. 10 - Top plate: Clock No. 36, refurbished at the


GPO Birmingham factory in 1979, as a mark 6 clock to
Fig 10 Diagram GMT 39/2. and a total rebuild from scratch.

Bottom plate: Clock No. 36, made by Magneta in 1953


as a mark 4 clock.

The markings are very useful for dating your clocks if


you do have one or more GPO clocks (or other GPO
equipment)

Or maybe you will see a clock on ebay, or at an auction


or other sale. If you can see the markings, then you
should be able to work out what it is, who made it and
Fig. 11 (Ignore the top number.) when!

END
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