St Mary’s Church Clock to Chime Again in the New Year

St Mary’s Church clock which hasn’t been working for many months has been dismantled this week by The Cumbria Clock Company to have a complete service, repair and clean.

The JW Benson clock dates back to 1877 when it was installed.  The rector at the time was Greville Phillimore whose name was inscribed on one of the clock pieces. In 2019 an automatic winder was fitted to the clock after resident Norman Topsom who used to wind up the clock every 4 days retired after 40+ years.

Peter Hyde and Steve Dutfield from The Cumbria Clock Company took about 4-5 hours to dismantle the clock on Wednesday and then had to take all the pieces down the very narrow, steep and winding clock tower staircase.  The company specialise in the restoration and conservation of mechanical clock movements in large public clocks and came recommended from the Oxford Diocese Clock Advisor.

Peter said, “It’s having a complete overhaul. We will be taking it apart, cleaning, repairing and replacing any parts that are broken in the workshop.  It hasn’t been cleaned for decades or taken apart. You can see that this little cog is broken (see photo above).  It will be a few weeks in the workshop and we’ll be bringing back in the New Year after we’ve tested it in the workshop.”  Steve commenting about the access to the clock said, “We’ve worked in a lot more tight conditions and the stairs are quite spacious and level compared to some we’ve been up and down.”

Father Jeremy Tayler said, “As well as the service, they will be fitting an automated night silencer so it won’t disturb anyone any more.  I used to come and turn it off myself and then turn it back on in the morning.  I got complaints about the noise.  It will probably be silenced from 11pm to 8am.  It’s taken quite a long time to get the guys here today as we had to get permission to do the work, then we had to find a contractor that we could rely on and these guys also have a lead time.”

Looking forward to the clock working again, Father Jeremy added, “I’m really looking forward to hearing the chimes again as I’m terribly bad for punctuality and it’s a massive help for me to have quarter chimes ringing as it keeps me in the right place at the right time.  I think it is part of the vibe of the town too to hear the bells.  It adds a bit of character to the town centre.  I think a stopped church clock just looks so sad and it doesn’t give a good impression that the church is being looked after.  I’m very excited to have it back and working again.”