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Most church clocks run for eight days. Wound once a week there is a little in hand. When our clock was installed in 1827 the weights fell from just above the clock to the porch floor, but when the gallery was installed towards the end of the last century, it curtailed the drop. At a stroke, we had a five and a half day clock. Generations of clock winders were condemned to climb the tower twice a week, not once.
In recent decades, the ringers have wound the clock, (actually whoever was steeple keeper). We just thought we had a short running clock; no one realised the history. In the mid eighties, we started thinking of ways to improve the situation. We considered automatic electric clock winders which would leave the historic clock intact, but all the quotations were very costly. At the time, we felt we could not ask the Church to spend so much, when there were more pressing needs.
For some years the problem lay dormant. We thought about adding an extra pulley (like a block and tackle). That would give twice the running time, but half the effective weight. A simple test showed that half the weight would not keep the clock going. Finally, we hit on the idea of cutting a hole in the floor to let the weight fall lower. Some calculations showed there was enough wire, and this was when the penny dropped about what had happened in the last century.
All was approved, but the saga dragged on though several quotations and much agonising over the effect of cutting a solid looking beam. (When removed, it proved to be a decorative fill-in held in place by very little, as we suspected). In the end two ringers set to, improved the wire run and built the new weight chute in the porch. Not surprisingly, they were the present and former steeple keepers!
We now only wind the clock once a week - a great improvement. There is just one snag. Winding 100Kg of lead up forty feet is a long hard wind. Good for keeping fit!
John Harrison (Jan 1994)
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