Church Clock

Not only does the tower house the bells, but also the church clock which sounds the quarter and the hours; it has three faces, one on each of the North, South and West sides of the tower. The clock which it replaced seems to have had only two faces - one of them placed on the angle of the North and West walls so that it faced directly into the Market Place.

Clock MechanismThe new clock was a gift of Mr. William Watson of Spring Lodge, and was installed in 1875. It had been made a year earlier by T. Cooke and Sons whose clocks are highly regarded for their quality and excellent time-keeping. In 2003, when some repair work was necessary, St. Mary's clock was still reported to be "in extremely good order and condition." By contrast, the dials, which are made of beaten copper and are five feet six inches in diameter, had deteriorated considerably. The hands are wooden, probably teak, and apart from some details are still intact.

The clock mechanism (pictured) is housed in the clock room immediately above the ringing chamber and below the belfry - one of the ropes from the ringing chamber to the bells can be seen to the left of the picture.

In the days of very few domestic clocks and when a pocket watch was generally a prized possession, a striking public clock was a great asset to a town. Even before there was any clock on the church (though there was a sun-dial) the church bells had been used to tell the time in a very limited way. A single bell rang for a few minutes at six o'clock in the morning; it was the Rising or Waking Bell, useful in the days before lowly-paid workers owned alarm clocks. Its date of origin is unknown but was rung until 1927.

Information  source: "St. Mary's Tower Clock and Bells" by Alan Wilkinson/Peter Wise and Dave Bailey