The Railroad House Clock was the result of a competition put on by the Grand Duchy of Baden Clockmakers School in Furtwangen, Robert Gerwif. The intention of the competition was to put forward a new “modern” design for the clock that would give classic clocks a new look.
An architect named Friedrich Eisenlohr, who had worked on the Badenese Rhine valley railway constructing the buildings that supported the railroads, took the design that he was so familiar with--the railroad guard’s residence--and he replaced the front facade with a clock face. This entry into the competition, which Eisenlohr described as “Wall Clock with shield decorated by ivy vines” won the prize and, though he never would have guessed, became the pattern on which almost all traditional, popular cuckoo clocks would spring from.
These clocks were almost square--just a little taller than they were wide, with a peaked roof, and a lot of wood-carved ornamentation and filigree. The clocks were (and would continue to be) very ornate, with added embellishments on almost every side and surface. Master craftsmen made them, and great artists painted the faces. At the time, these clocks did not depict any figures or scenes--they were merely the beautifully designed case and the clock face.
But that clock designed by Eisenlohr was not actually a cuckoo clock, and this style of clock would not become a real cuckoo clock until it was augmented by Johann Baptist Beha, arguably the greatest cuckoo clock maker in the world at the time. He sold them as Bahnhöfle Uhren ("Railroad station clocks"). One of these clocks made its way to the United Kingdom, and there was a nearly instant boom in the production and sales of the Railroad House Cuckoo Clock.
Today, the Railroad House Clock is almost synonymous with “traditional cuckoo clocks” as the design is so timeless and iconic. Although many cuckoo clocks have differed from this style over the years, nearly all of them can trace their lineage back to the Railroad House Clock.
The Railroad House Clocks that are sold by Bavarian Craftworks follow the Bahnhausle uhr style: they maintain the same rectangular proportions, the same peaked roof, and the same level of ornamentation and carved design, as well as having cuckoo elements that can include anything from a single cuckoo bird (such as the 1885 Bahnhausle 17” Cuckoo Clock) to a rotating scene (such as the 1870 Railway 21” Cuckoo Clock). Some are very detailed (such as the Gothic Rail 23” Cuckoo Clock) while others are broader with a solid and defined presence (such as the Trackwalker House 18” Cuckoo Clock).
The Railroad House Clock is a must have for cuckoo clock collectors, as it is the basis, the foundation upon which all further cuckoo clocks are derived.