Located at the Burnside, Bridge St, Dollar,

the clock was erected in 1912 to honour the memory of the late Dr William Spence,

a very much loved and respected local general practitioner.

[please click here for link to our article about the special Synchronome clocks used which are housed in the museum]
This grey granite monument is over 19ft high and is situated at the east end of Bridge Street adjacent to the bridge at the north-east corner. The four opal dials at the top were originally controlled by a Synchronome electric master clock in the Burgh Chambers but were subsequently changed to direct drive by an electric motor.
[please click here for link to our article about the special Synchronome clocks used which are housed in the museum]

His Life (including text from the Alloa Advertiser, 30th July 1910)

William Spence was born at Monimal, near Cupar, Fife, on 26 September 1861, the youngest of three children born to Dr William and Mrs Anne Spence. He began his education locally, but then transferred to Abbey Park School in St Andrews. He was remembered as an especially bright boy and a great favourite with the teachers and other pupils. After leaving school he went to Edinburgh to study medicine and had a distinguished career as a student, and on conclusion of his course, and after graduation in M.B.C.M., he was selected as one of the house doctors at the infirmary.

This gave him wide clinical knowledge and experience which proved very useful to his patients during his career. He was gifted with a marvellous memory. Any symptom of a disease which he had himself observed or been told about was never forgotten, and this fact probably accounted for the rapid and almost invariable accuracy of his diagnosis.

He came to Dollar in the year 1886, at the age of 25, and noted as a handsome and smart young man, and with glowing testimonials from his work in Edinburgh. He was much admired for being swift and sure in his diagnosis and in seizing the salient points of a case. “Let us go to the bottom and remove the cause of the trouble” were words that were constantly on his lips. “Superficial treatment is like sticking on a postage stamp”.

On 30th January 1889 William married Miss Isabella (Ella) Robertina Duff, the daughter of a Dunkeld banker, at The Cottages in Dollar. Her minister from Dunkeld officiated at the ceremony.  During the next decade they had four children.

For over 20 years, many patients sought advice and many a time, when the doctor himself was not quite certain of a case, a “professor” was called at his suggestion. In most cases his own opinion was subsequently corroborated. His maternity record was also considered more than remarkable. He had practised for 18 years before he had to record the death of a mother.

Dr Spence was a keen sportsman and had a keen eye, a steady hand, and great delicacy of touch; he could handle a curling stone, a golf club, a bat, a cue or a gun and excelled at all of them. For many years he was a skip (captain) in the Dollar Curling Club, and he was seldom beaten and had been elected President of the Lochleven Curling Province shortly before his death.

His annual holiday always began on the 12th of August and he derived pleasure following dogs, doing a long walk, and he enjoyed “a high and fast one” and very few could kill them cleaner. Once his holiday was over he was too busy to shoot partridges or pheasants except on rare occasions.

Dr William Spence, M.B.C.M.
1861 – 1910
Portrait photograph by Crowe & Rodgers
The William Spence Memorial Clock

The inscription on the Plaque
BORN 1861 – DIED 1910

The final year or so of his life was a difficult period. His family had all been ill in Spring 1909 from an epidemic. He himself caught infections and suffered in such a malignant form that there was serious indication of blood poisoning, and not till July was he able to resume work.

On August 1st he was involved in a serious motor accident which resulted in the breaking of several ribs, the fracture of his collar bones and injury to the lungs. For some time his life hung in the balance, but by careful nursing in a home in Glasgow he recovered sufficiently to be to be travelling the next Spring, 1910, to Davos where he rapidly improved.

He returned to Dollar about the middle of June and received congratulations on the recovery of his health and spirits. Then, on about 20th July he accompanied his brother in-law to the latter’s shooting lodge, Bolfracks, near Aberfeldy. He had not been there many days when he suffered appendicitis of a very acute form. An operation was performed on Sunday 24th as his only chance of life, but he was was too weak to rally and he passed peacefully away on Tuesday 26th July.

Dr Spence left a widow and four of a family – three daughters and a son. Not only the people of Dollar but those from a wide district around sympathised with the widow and family and joined with their grief and loss.

But in our grateful memories he will still live as our kind and clever doctor and as a genial, sociable, warm-hearted, open handed and self-sacrificing friend. No man could possibly have been more unselfish.

 The ‘Burnside Clock’ was bought by public subscription in remembrance of Dr William Spence, who died on 26th July 1910. It was inaugurated on 23rd October 1912. The Memorial, with different clock workings, remains a well known feature of Dollar. The two Synchronome Master Pendulum Clocks used to drive the memorial Clock faces have been restored are are on display in Dollar Museum.

Ella Spence died on 30th July 1944, aged 85, and was buried in Dollar.

This image of the Spence memorial Clock was drawn by the late Jennifer Campbell.

This and other drawings by Jennifer Campbell of features of interest in Dollar make up the design of the Dollar Museum Tea Towel.