Village Clock - nearly ticking and chiming!

Our appeal to get the Village Clock working has been an outstanding success!

Great news – the village clocks at St Margaret’s has now been repaired and after nearly a year it’s now almost back at work.

Some final works and adjustments are needed on the weights for the chimes of the hour and quarter hour before we can restart the clock.

The clock mechanism has had a major overhaul and been completely dismantled, cleaned, oiled and greased.  New automatic winding mechanisms have been installed for the hourly and quarterly chimes along with the clock mechanism itself.  Rosie and Peter, horologists from The Cumbria Clock Company carried out the work which was funded by donations to the Village Clock fund and for which we are very thankful.  There’s still some finishing touches to be completed but we can now look forward to many more years of seeing and hearing time being kept in Ditchling.

Our appeal was launched to replace the village clock’s automatic winding mechanism which had failed after many years of reliable operation.  To replace the main clock mechanism along with the mechanisms for the quarter and half hour chimes with a ten-year guarantee would cost over £6,000 and was well beyond the amount we had in our Clock Fund.

 

Very soon after the appeal was launched we were advised by the clock engineers that the clock mechanism itself should also be overhauled.  They explained that the clock should be dismantled and cleaned every 20 years as there are bearings which cannot be fully lubricated during a normal service visit.  Also, it would give an opportunity to fully inspect all the components to ensure that they are in good condition and not about to fail or cause unnecessary wear to occur.  As it is over 20 years since this work has been undertaken to the clock and as it is just about to have a new winding system fitted they suggested that it would be an ideal time to have it done.

 

The cost of the major overhaul would be £1862 and so we suddenly found ourselves in the position where our target had increased from £6000 to nearly £8000.  Donations started to be received but the new target was going to be very challenging to achieve.  We then received a very generous and large donation that covered the cost of the automatic winding mechanism and by the beginning of December we had reached our new target.  Hopefully and subject to pandemic restrictions work will commence early in January 2020.

 

Reverend David Wallis said that he would like to thank everyone who donated to the Village Clock fund and that we can all look forward to seeing and hearing the Village Clock working again for many years into the future.

We expect the repairs to be complete in the New Year. Watch this space for news and video of the clock repair...!

For just over a hundred and fifty years, since 1868, the villagers of Ditchling have heard the clock on the tower of St Margaret’s chiming the hours, the halves and the quarters. Whether you were wondering whether it was time to get up, or listening to see if it was time for lunch or to leave your place of work for home, or even lying in bed awake worrying about something, the chimes marked the inexorable passage of time. 

 

Experts say that the clock is a fine example of work by Tucker of London (see photo). It was restored in around 1920 by Gillett and Johnstone of Croydon, just after records say that in celebration of Peace in 1919 the seven bells of St Margaret’s were rung in 5,040 changes (35,280 strokes) over three hours and ten minutes (see photo). To avoid the heavy weights that power the mechanism hanging down into the nave, the cables were originally diverted horizontally through a tortuous route so that there was sufficient fall. The increased friction made the winding extremely heavy and not very efficient, so about twenty-five years ago the manual winding was replaced by electric motor drives. This not only avoided the hard physical work of winding, but also avoided the need to repeat this every two or three days.

Over the years Ditchling Parish Council with great foresight has generously made a grant to St Margaret’s to support the maintenance and servicing of the clock.  This has not only covered regular maintenance but has also a small “Clock Fund” to grow to cover occasions when some additional work was needed.

Such an occasion has now arrived. Eerily coincident with the pandemic you will have noticed that for some time the clock has not been striking. Several visits by our regular maintainers, the Cumbria Clock Company, have shown that owing to lack of spares and unreliability the existing electric winding will need to be replaced. To replace the driver of the main clock mechanism along with the mechanisms for the quarter and half hour chimes with a ten-year guarantee will cost over £6,000, while we have only £1,030 accumulated in our Clock Fund. As for many organisations, church funds have been severely impacted by the pandemic and so a campaign has been launched to help with funding. If you would like to donate you can using the Donate button below.  Cheques and cash would also be most gratefully received if you would prefer and a collection box is available at St Margaret’s.

Reverend David Wallis said “I’ve been approached by many people asking about the clock and feel confident that the campaign will be successful so that we can get the repairs completed as soon as possible and the chimes we’ve missed so much would return to Ditchling”.