The Atkinson Clock Tower is the oldest standing structure in Kota Kinabalu. It was originally known as the Atkinson Memorial Clock Tower and sits in solitary on the bluff along Signal Hill Road overlooking this seaside city and capital of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.
Over the years the clock tower underwent many transformations. Subsequent repairs and renovations have altered its appearance. Machine-gun fire during the war damaged the dial and cog of the clock tower’s mechanisms. It was repaired by Yick Ming Watch Dealers of Kota Kinabalu who have continued to be the maintenance contractors until today, a practice passed down from father to son. Therefore, the story of this historical clock tower is intricately tied to the lives of generations of Sabahans who have lived in its vicinity over the past one hundred years.
The clock tower was extensively renovated and altered for Jesselton’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 1959. Defective structural members caused by the tropical weather were substituted with other hardwoods, while the roof timbers were stripped and replaced. Its new facelift was completed in 7 November 1959. However, the brass plaque that was placed at the foot of the clock disappeared after the Jubilee renovations.
In 1961 the Atkinson Clock Tower's clock face was altered yet again. The dials of the clock were changed and the face replaced with translucent Perspex, with black figures on white background for internal lighting. But the building itself has remained intact in its exact location for more than a century.