Essential works under way at city's medieval Clock Tower

The medieval Clock Tower in St Albans

The medieval Clock Tower in St Albans is undergoing essential works following a grant from Historic England. - Credit: St Albans Council

Essential restoration work has started on St Albans' historic Clock Tower.

Work to replace the auto-wind mechanism of the medieval tower is under way following a generous grant from Historic England.

St Albans Museums, the organisation responsible with managing and maintaining the Clock Tower, received a grant of £5,240 towards the work from Historic England’s COVID-19 Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund.

St Albans' medieval Clock Tower

St Albans' medieval Clock Tower. - Credit: Alan Davies

Councillor Anthony Rowlands, the council's portfolio holder for leisure, heritage and public realm, said: “The Clock Tower is an important local landmark and I am thrilled to hear that this essential work is now taking place.  

"Continuing to conserve our built heritage is vital and I am grateful to Historic England for the grant.”

Clock restoration specialists, Smiths of Derby, have been commissioned to carry out the work.

The company has years of experience carefully preserving the clock within the Clock Tower, as well as restoring other prestigious timepieces, such as those at the Royal College of Arts and the London Coliseum.

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The new auto-wind mechanism will replace a piece of outdated equipment with an updated model.

This new mechanism has been selected as an upgrade which will have less impact on the Victorian winding mechanism.

St Albans' Clock Tower is the only surviving medieval town belfry in England and is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

It is usually open to the public from Easter to the end of September and staffed by volunteers from the Civic Society and SAHAAS (The St Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural & Archaeological Society).

Following the government announcement last week, plans are now being created for reopening when guidelines allow.

In the meantime, virtual tours are available on www.stalbansmuseums.org.uk/visit/clock-tower

St Albans Museums manages and cares for a number of cultural heritage sites across St Albans City and District.

This includes St Albans Museum + Gallery in the restored Town Hall, Verulamium Museum, the Hypocaust, the medieval Clock Tower, Sopwell Ruins, and the thousands of objects in the City’s collection.

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