Our Clock Comes Home

On behalf of my community at Turvey Abbey I would like to express my gratitude to everyone who contributed to our ‘Clock in Distress’ fund to make it possible to have our two hundred year old tower clock restored.

It was 12 December 2022, there was snow on the ground and I was just helping to get our roadside Christmas crib out of the garage when a van drove in—it was Smith of Derby arriving with our clock and dial! A few minutes later a second van arrived followed by a very large cherry picker. The two clock engineers, Richard and Andy, set to work.

First thing to do was, with the aid of the cherry picker, to get the dial back in place (‘clock face’ to most people) and correctly align the big cog wheels in the clock room, the ones that drive the fingers. I had repainted the dial myself in 1983—a four foot diameter dial in a rather small room—and on the back of the fingers I had painted a verse from Psalm 112: ‘From the rising of the sun to its setting, praised be the name of the Lord’, the verse is still there now.

The clock had arrived assembled, the first job was to disassemble it and get it up the steps to the clock room. The clock frame had been left intact—if taken apart, it is very hard to get it back together exactly as it was to start with—and it took both strength and intelligence to get it back up the tower.

They had allowed four days to complete the job. One by one all the bits lying spread out on the floor in Brand House were taken up to the clock room, and by Wednesday the clock was up and running. The last job had been to attach the rather heavy weights, one drives the clock, the other the chime. Richard and Andy then left a device somewhat like an ECG for clocks running overnight and came back on Thursday to check that all was OK. The device monitored the swings of the pendulum.

I had watched the assembly process with fascination, I stand in awe at Richard and Andy’s ability to put the clock back together and get it working. I know how the clock works from winding it up and studying it, but I know almost no the technical terms, and I found it faintly amusing to be talking to two experts using my version of the names. (Apparently ‘its tick is louder than its tock’, whilst a good description of the situation, isn’t clock engineer language.) We had some interesting conversations, amongst other things how one has to be careful when conveying to the customer that their clock will still be running when they are gone. Well, our clock is now as good as new, maybe it should have a 200 year guarantee!

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