The Time Clock

Thanks to David Weatherhead for this bit of memorabilia.

I don’t know when punch card time clocks were introduced but it was probably a 20th century invention. Which I suppose begs the question of how work time was monitored before the introduction of these clocks.

The one shown here must have been of pre-WWII date and was probably a precision timepiece. Each employee had a time card which could be inserted to record time in and time out. You could of course clock in early but if you clocked out early you would lose pay. I think a minute might cost you at least a quarter of an hour’s pay – possibly more. Because of this men would leave their work five minutes early and would line up to clock out. Once the minute hand had ticked over men wuld rapidly process their time cards and the exodus from the works gates at lunchtime and at the end of the day would rapidly become a flood.

Time clocks such as this one were in use until 1996, when they were replaced by an electronic version.