Is St Albans Clock Tower running fast?

PUBLISHED: 14:00 24 September 2018 | UPDATED: 14:09 24 September 2018

St Albans Clock Tower

St Albans Clock Tower


Ever wondered how the St Albans Clock Tower keeps time and why it is running a tad fast?

The Herts Advertiser offices on French Row sit within earshot of the iconic St Albans Clock Tower and we have began noticing it is getting faster and faster.

Several months ago, it was ringing at 58 minutes past the hour, but recently it has been ringing at 54 minutes past.

The reason behind this, according to the volunteers who run it, is the Clock Tower is old.

Its clock mechanism is reset twice a year by Smiths of Derby for daylight savings, but every month it gets one minute faster. In the past, the time was set by placing a penny on the so-called ‘penny shelf’ to affect the rate at which the pendulum shifts - the same system used for Big Ben. Up until as late as the 1980s, the council paid someone to wind the clock three times a week.

District archaeologist Simon West says the clock mechanism is a hybrid creation, dating from the 19th century with additions from the 20th century and requires at least a week to correct, months if it needs a part replacing.

After being contacted by The Herts Advertiser, Mr West promised to look into the error, but until then, maybe just check your phone for the time?

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I should probably have taken the hint! Walking out into the garden recently an unprecedented flock of thirty or more crows raucously greeted me from the treetops at the bottom of my garden. Cawing and croaking these big, black birds clung clumsily to the top most branches and twigs, jostling and flapping to stay balanced in a constant flurry of feathers. There is always something ominous about crows – they are after all carrion crows, the vultures of the bird world – always watching for scraps and weakness that might mean their next meal.

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