A timeless moment for Barry inside the famous Clock Tower
THE tradition of altering the clocks will be honoured again on Saturday when timepieces of every size and description will be put back one hour. For most people it’s a simple task of turning a switch to alter the hands, but for Barry Wilkinson, of 4 Victoria Road, Skegness, the event is more complicated.
He has to get inside his clock to make the change !
An appropriate title for Barry would be ” Timekeeper of Skegness.” For the last five years he has had the weekly job of winding and looking after the resort’s famous Clock Tower. This week-end. when he puts the clock back an hour, he will have to make precise adjustments to the complicated mechanism and chiming system.
For the purposes of this story Barry showed a “Standard” reporter and photographer around the Tower. He was in the middle of a long explanation of the clock mechanism – at the base of the building and not as many people believe at the top – when the giant pendulum swung slowly to a halt.
It was an emergency of the first magnitude! A timeless moment! The clock had stopped – the first time it had done so since snow had blocked its four faces a few years ago.
Although there was anxiety when the minutes did not tick by, the English spirit came to the fore and there was no panic. After the clock had struck twelve an hour too soon and had chimed all the quarter hours within five minutes, normal service was eventually resumed.
A Council electrician, Barry is a mine of information about the clock. Together with the names of time-keepers who have wound the clock since it was built in 1899, Barry’s name and that of his predecessor at the job, Johnny Strzelecki, are carved on woodwork on the interior of the building.
HE CAN tell you that the mechanism serviced annually by a Derby firm, that a five-eighths inch rod extends from the mechanism to drive the hands at the top, that the clock loses one minute every week and he can show you war scars on the outside brickwork caused by the shrapnel when the Tower Cinema was bombed.
Built to honour Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, the Clock Tower recently celebrated its own diamond jubilee. At the time of this, anniversary in 1959, Skegness Surveyor, Mr. H. Al. Cooper, was reported as saying that “apart from slight leaning away from the vertical that does not amount to much, the Clock Tower is still structurally in good condition.
“The slight list it has developed is periodically checked for safety as a routine measure. The only replacement in recent years, has been the re-sheathing of the small dome at the top in copper. After 60 years unending work the clock mechanism is still giving excellent service.”
It is interesting to note that on its 30th birthday the Clock Tower was under fire as being an obstruction. since “the advent of the petrol era.” And this in 1929! If the writer of that comment in the “‘Standard” of those days, could only see the effect of the “advent of the petrol era” on a modern Bank Holiday!
The comment of 30 years ago suggests that the Clock Tower, standing as it does at the busiest confluence of pedestrian and motor traffic in the town”, added to the risk of accidents: and the writer wondered if the City Fathers in their wisdom may decide to transfer it to the o end of Tower Esplanade.”
Evidently the, City Fathers thought otherwise!
Source: Skegness Standard 25th October 1961