Penarth's Town Clock may well find itself being decapitated again - as it was in 2009 - for repairs to be carried out.

Penarth’s Town Clock underwent a total overhaul in 2009 but had to be repaired again recently –  and now spare parts are becoming hard to obtain .

Penarth Town Council has been warned by clock makers Smith of Derby that spare parts are becoming unavailable for  Penarth’s iconic Town Clock.

Penarth Town Clock - providing a pick-and mix approach to time-keeping in October last year

Penarth Town Clock – providing a pick-and mix approach to time-keeping in October last year

The Town Clerk Shan Bowden reminded members of Penarth Town Council last night that the clock had been originally presented to the town by the local Rotary Club  with the proviso that the council would be responsible for its maintenance.

The Town Clerk said the clock had recently had a fault [one of several over the years] and when the makers, Smiths of Derby,  had taken out the “workings”  – still the original ones – they had found that some of the mechanical parts were “coming to the end of their life ” and that spare parts were “difficult to come across”. Although the clock had been fixed on this occasion, Smiths had suggested that the  council consider planning to replace the movements on the four faces – at a cost of £2,258.

The Mayor of Penarth Cllr Rosemary Cook (Labour St Auguistines)

The Mayor of Penarth Cllr Rosemary Cook (Labour St Augustine’s)

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines)

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines)

The Mayor Cllr Rosemary Cook (Labour St Augustines) –  [chairing the Leisure and Amenities Committee in place of Cllr Rhiannon Birch]  – asked for the views of committee members.

Cllr Gwyn Roberts (Labour St Augustines) suggested the establishment of a “sinking fund” either by setting aside a lump sum from reserves or making an annual deposit towards it.

Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Clive Williams (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Clive Williams said the clock had been installed in 1987   “on his watch” when he had been Town Mayor. At the time, the idea had been to provide a “focal point for Penarth” and so it had turned out. Cllr Williams said the clock appeared on lots of photographs and cards and had proved to be  a handy landmark when giving people directions in the town.

Cllr Williams said  there were four small electric motors powering each of the four faces. If one motor failed, it was simply a matter of replacing the faulty motor with a new one. He also thought that if the engineers were coming from Derby, the travelling costs must be significant.  He suggested that a local firm be found to undertake the maintenance.

The Town Clerk said Smiths of Derby had installed the clock originally and the annual maintenance had been with them ever since. Cllr Gwyn Roberts agreed it was sensible to have local people do it. Keeping business local was one of the Penarth Town Council’s principles and the council should try to support local businesses.

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward)

Cllr Martin Turner (Conservative Plymouth Ward)  asked how much the annual maintenance cost amounted to . No precise figure was available  but it was thought it might be around £100.

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell)

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell)

Cllr Neil Thomas (Labour Cornerswell) asked about the installers –  Smith of Derby – and said “I am assuming they are not actually in Derby are they?”   The Town Clerk assured him that indeed they were ; they had been the firm from which the Rotary Club had obtained the clock in the beginning. In than case – Cllr Thomas said – it made far more sense to use a local maintenance firm.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Mike Cuddy (Labour St Augustines) said – lightheartedly – this was a matter of “time travel” . It was resolved to set up a budget to cover maintenance costs and to obtain quotations from local clock maintenance firms.





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  1. Did the council say what the budget would be? I’d hate to see that clock go, it really has been one of the symbols of the town. But surely we have to put a cap on these things?

  2. Martin gossage says:

    “It was installed on my watch” ha ha !

  3. Here’s a thought from outside the box: Back in 1978, when I was completing my “O”-Levels, one of the components for the Design, Craft & Technology qualification was to Design and Realize a timepiece. As a part of this, my father and I visited St Fagans museum. There we met with a Mr Morgan who was in charge of all the clocks in the museum. We had a very interesting day going ‘behind the scenes’ and learning of the time, effort and machning that goes into the maintennance of the various antique clocks that are on display at the museum. Have you ever noticed how they all tell the correct time?

    On another occasion, we ordered a fire brazier from the blacksmith there. Which worked out to be at a very reasonable price scince the blacksmith was paid by the museum and had no overheads in respect to his shop.

    Putting these two pieces of information together – perhaps the Town Council should approach St Fagans Museum, Clocks Department as an alternative to Smiths of Derby

  4. Jon Rat says:

    Why not buy 4 X £1 clocks and stick them in there? (or just use the motors). Change the batteries once a month!!! Job done! tax payers money saved.

    Change the face to digital with 1 PC and 4 x screens and then it can double up and show adverts and generate some revenue or cover it’s costs.

    We do not have to use 16th century technology based on a BC idea, today.

  5. Fiona Whitfield says:

    Ive noticed these past weeks that the clock has been five minutes fast

  6. AK says:

    Nothing more useless than a clock which doesn’t tell the time.

    Good shout on St Fagan’s – I’m sure the Smiths warranty is expired!

  7. Christopher David says:

    Good thoughts Knock John but wouldn’t you say if its only lasted since 1987 its not that well engineered. I have watches in working older much older than that! Maybe better to give it to St Fagans and get a new one. VOG could contribute out of “our” £60 million savings fund!

    • Well, perhaps we should look at true heritage – I still remember when the roundabout was larger, covered by lawns and flower borders and had a double-headed street light – and NO CLOCK. The fact than so many new Penarthians seem to think the thing has some heritage value is questionable to say the least.

  8. Christopher David says:

    I concur.

  9. snoggerdog says:

    sell the roundabout to the chinese,they will put one of their poundland clocks on there,unless its already been sold to a canadian pension fund co or donald trumps muslim trust fund !

Comments are closed.