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Run/Go like the Clappers

Posted by Gail Hogben on August 24, 2003

During a very interesting visit to the Chatham Dockyard in Kent in the UK, we were told that the phrase "to run like the clappers" comes from when the bell was rung to tell the workers it was time for work in the morning. As it got closer to starting time, the bell was rung faster. Now Chatham dockyard is NOT small and the guide said that the phrase was used when latecomers realised they still had a good 15-20 minute walk across the yards to get to their place of work, and so they picked up speed and ran as fast as the clappers (of the starting bell). Does this sound plausible?