Church clock gets restored

Rev Philip Smith, of St Andrew's Church in Aldborough, stands in front of the tower which houses the restored clock. (100111GS3)
Rev Philip Smith, of St Andrew's Church in Aldborough, stands in front of the tower which houses the restored clock. (100111GS3)
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TIME is ticking over once again at St Andrew’s Church, in Aldborough, near Boroughbridge, after a painstaking restoration of the clock mechanism by a skilled member of the congregation.

The clock – which was installed in the late-18th century – ground to a halt two years ago because of dust, debris and wear and tear which had taken their toll.

But congregation member Bob Walker, a retired physics teacher who set up a precision engineering business and who has his own small workshop, has stripped the clock down and meticulously re-created new parts to get the mechanism working once again.

The original components had been hand-made by craftsmen and had their own unique designs and did not always follow standard geometrical patterns.

The church has celebrated the restoration of the clock with a special service, and the completion of the repair work came just in time for this month’s wedding at St Andrew’s attended by Prince William and his bride-to-be, Kate Middleton.

One of the clock’s interesting features is its pendulum measuring more than 30ft-long with a swing lasting 3.4 seconds. Because it is so long, when it was originally installed a pit had to be dug into the tower’s floor to house the bottom 5ft of the pendulum.

One explanation for the over-sized device is that the clock had been built by a Mr Climeshaw, of Aldborough, for another church but – as result of that church’s inability to pay – the clock was then sold on and installed at St Andrew’s.

The restoration of the mechanism follows a £3,000 makeover to the clock-faces in summer 2009 during which their colour was changed from black to the same blue found in the St Andrew’s Cross, the national flag of Scotland. At the same time, their copper Roman numerals and clock-hands were given a gold-leaf coating.

The church council of St Andrew’s is now considering how glazing might be used to allow visitors to contemplate the steady swing of the impressive clock mechanism as it marks the passage of time over the coming centuries.