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The History Maintenance Commission use the clock at the Corn Exchange in Bristol, England, as a conduit to book our passage into bygone eras. The clock is a unique timepiece as it’s the only one in the world publicly displaying a time from the past, for it has two second hands exhibiting the minutes past the hour, one has Greenwich Mean Time, the standardised time for the whole of the UK, the other, ten minutes behind, shows the long redundant Bristol time.

Prior to 1837 cities throughout Britain had their own time, however, the coming of the railways and regimented timetables meant the standardisation of time nationally was the best way forward to avoid confusion. Every city had to adopt London time. But many Bristolians took exception to losing their autonomy and set about the task of causing disruption in the hope of having Bristol Time, ten minutes behind GMT, restored. One tactic was for workers to deliberately turn up for work ten minutes late each day. Brad Holman of Old Market clocked in each morning fifty minutes late and was hailed a hero for doing the protesting of five men. He was also hailed a cab to take him home early after being dismissed.

Other protests included climbing up steeples and putting church clocks back to Bristol Time and also pinching the pocket-watches of gents employed in the city putting them back by ten minutes and then returning them to the pockets of their unsuspecting owners. This was bad news for Mr H. G. Ledbury of the Easton area of the city who had this done to him numerous times on his stroll to work one November morning in 1837. When he eventually checked his watch he almost died of shock because he discovered that he had not even been born yet!

Eventually, the protests died down, especially when the majority realised that following London Time meant they got their pay packets earlier. The only dissent thereafter came the way of the odd fellow who made a point of following 600 seconds to the rear of a bank security wagon, as in this manner they could be seen to be still ten minutes behind the capital.

Once the clock displaying a past time has been used as a conduit to facilitate our remedial strategies it becomes necessary to use a Bygone Guide anchored in the past as a means to conduct the operations from. These Bygone Guides are figures of historical or literary importance who lived within range of the Corn Exchange Clock, even prior to its construction. These Bygone Guides (historical forms of spirit guides) are taken from a pool consisting of: Samuel Plimsoll, Princess Caraboo, Nipper the Dog, Thomas Chatterton, Cary Grant, Dame Clara Butt, William Friese-Greene, Blackbeard the Pirate, W.G. Grace, John Cabot and Robert Southey. The History Maintenance Commission takes every precaution and care in ensuring that while the Bygone Guide is used as a vantage point on the past every endeavour is made to prevent any possibility of the guide being derailed from making their own mark on history.

Part 9: The War Rooms

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