Clock Tower reopens after essential repairs

Mayor Geoff Harrison opened the Clock Tower on Saturday.

Mayor Geoff Harrison opened the Clock Tower on Saturday. - Credit: SADC

The St Albans Clock Tower was officially reopened by Mayor Geoff Harrison on Saturday following the completion of essential roof repairs.

The tower usually opens on Good Friday but this year the opening had to be delayed due to the discovery of rotten wood in the roof decking, leading to the whole platform needing to be replaced.

As the building is a Scheduled Monument and a Grade I listed building, permissions had to be sort from both Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries and Historic England before work could commence.

The initial cherry picker that the roofing contractors used to lift the wooden planks to the roof was not quite tall enough.

The shorter sections of wood could be brought in through the second-floor window and carried up the spiral staircase but not the longer strips.

A second, higher reaching cherry picker was hired for the second day and the longer pieces were finally hoisted to the roof and the decking completed.

Whilst the tower was closed for the decking replacement other internal repairs and replacements took place and the Victorian turret clock was serviced by Smith’s of Derby.

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The clock was corrected not only for the change due to British Summer Time but also for the 12 minutes that it had lost gradually since its last service.

The timing of the clock can be adjusted by adding small weights to the penny shelf on the pendulum as this has effect of speeding the clock up.

The timing of the turret clock in the Palace of Westminster’s Elizabeth Tower is adjusted in exactly the same, only they have shiny old pre-decimal one pennies and we have a collection of washers and metal nuts as our weights.

The St Albans Clock Tower is now open every weekend and bank holiday from 10.30am to 5pm until the end of September. It is staffed by volunteers from both SAHAAS (St Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society) and the St Albans Civic Society.