Time stands still for family at town clock

Alan Shadbolt, daughter Kirsty and grandson Daniel in front of the Town Hall clock mechanism
Alan Shadbolt, daughter Kirsty and grandson Daniel in front of the Town Hall clock mechanism
  • Special holiday treat for clock keeper’s grandson
  • Landmark was installed in 1992 at a cost of £700
  • It was made to chime and strike 24 hours a day

A former Town Hall clock keeper took a trip back in time last week when he showed his young grandson around his old workplace.

Alan Shadbolt worked at the Grove Road landmark in his youth and spent five years looking after the Town Hall clock.

During the Easter holidays he took 10-year-old Daniel, a pupil at Stafford School, to the Town Hall to show him where he worked and what he did each day.

That was back in the days when the clock was wound by hand.

Alan said, “I was 16 when I first started working on the clock and we had to wind it by hand.

“It’s a lot different now to what it was back then. It’s quite surprising really.

“It is now wound by electric motors whereas back in the day we used to wind it by hand.

“The lights on the clock faces have changed too. It’s now strip lighting but used to be all individual bulbs.

“It has been interesting to come back and Daniel has always been very interested in it when I talked about my old job looking after the clock.”

The iconic Town Hall clock was installed in 1892 at a cost of £700.

When first installed, the clock was made to chime and strike 24 hours a day.

A night silencer was fitted at a later date.

Possibly around this time, dial lighting was also introduced, the clock acting as the time switch.

The clock was wound manually twice a week, on a Wednesday and Saturday, by two men.

This took approximately three-quarters of an hour each time.

In 1964, a new bell was cast and fitted, because the old one had cracked. A new supporting girder was also fitted.

At this time, automatic winding was fitted and the clock was overhauled. Dial lighting was converted to strip lighting with its own electric time switch.

A monthly visit was made to check the clock and ensure that the time was correct until 1981 when a complete overhaul of the clock and all hammer linkages was carried out.

The clock has always been accessed by two flights of very narrow tight stairs.

The first floor is where the bells are located.

Another set of steps is where the mechanism of the clock is located along with the four clock faces which can be seen from various points across the town.

Last year the clock had to be stopped when it started chiming randomly.

After the 2014 Easter break and despite three visits from engineers, the chimes on the iconic timepiece were out of time and a specialist was flown in from Belgium who eventually fixed it.

Earlier this year on April 1 the Herald website featured an April Fool story saying the council wanted to replace the traditional clock face with an easy-to-read digital display in a bid to modernise the town’s landmark.