Nylex Clock

2 Gough Street, Richmond, 3121.  


Photos  



Description

The Nylex Clock is one of the most significant neon sky signs in Victoria. It was built by Neon Electric Signs in 1961 for Nylex Plastics Limited. Owing to its high elevation upon the No. 2 Cremorne Silos, the sign can be seen across many suburbs.

The sign consists of several components. The main focus is a large sequence of metal-trough letters which use light emitting diodes (LEDs) to spell "NYLEX". Below this is another series of metal-trough letters, this time illuminated with neon tubing to spell "Plastics". Over this is a series of unprotected neon tubes which spell "EVERY TIME!". A panel on the top of the sign uses LED's to display the time and temperature. When fully operational, the Nylex Clock displays a number of overlays that eventually spell "Nylex Plastics - Every Time!".

The Nylex Clock has become an iconic symbol of Melbourne, where it has been depicted in art and film. The most notable example is Paul Kelly's 1987 song Leaps and Bounds where he sung "...and way up on high, the sign on the silo says eleven degrees...". (Watch the video clip). Countless newspaper articles have been written about the sign over many years.

After many years of service, the Nylex Clock suffered the ravages of age and on account of its cost, was switched off. 

In 2003, the silos beneath the Nylex Clock were slated for demolition, and a peculiar proposal was mooted whereby the clock would be reinstated over the new building. Eventually, the Heritage Council of Victoria added the Nylex Clock (and the Silos) to the Victorian Heritage Register, therefore protecting the clock and silos from destruction.

In 2004, Nylex Plastics paid for a full restoration which cost in excess of $300,000. The replacement of incandescent bulbs in the panel with 30-degree white LEDs initially made the sign more difficult to read in some locations, so these were subsequently replaced with orange 70-degree LED's in December 2004, after community complaints.

The ongoing costs of replacing blown incandescent bulbs had been a constant burden for Nylex over the sign's long history, and so their replacement with LEDs was seen as a cost-saver as well as enhancing the sign's visibility. However, the differential pattern of light emission has altered the appearance of the clock when compared to earlier photographs of the sign.

In February 2009, the Nylex company went into voluntary administration, and as a result the sign was been switched off pending a sale of Nylex's assets or the company. It is uncertain when the sign will be re-illuminated again, although it remains in full working order.

There is much community support for having the clock reinstated, which has manifested itself in a Twitter feed and Facebook group dedicated to the cause.

The Nylex Clock is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register (File No. H2049) and the National Trust cites it as being of "state significance" (File No. B7130).

See also: Nylex Clock Mentone

Videos  

The Nylex clock, illuminated at night (no audio)
Video by Adam Dimech, 2006


Paul Kelly's Leaps and Bounds, featuring the Nylex Clock (YouTube)
Copyright © Paul Kelly, 1987



Further Information  
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