Time turns back as city clock restored to its former glory

A FAMOUS clock outside the York church of St Martin in Coney Street is being put back in place after major restoration work to return it to former glories.

For the first time in many years people will be able to hear the clock strike following the works.

Andrew Hingston, of St Martin’s Church, who has overseen the restoration project, said: “We only realised the scale of the work once the clock was in the workshop.

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“The 19th century bracket has been repaired, repainted and gilded, and the face of Father Time has been replaced. The figure of the ‘Little Admiral’ has been repainted in the correct 18th century colours and for the first time in nearly two centuries revolves as he originally did.

“Aside from a brief period in 1966 when it struck the hours, the clock has been silent since the church was bombed in 1942. Not only has the strike been reinstated, but new quarter chimes have been specially written by the York composer Andrew Carter.”

It was removed in November, and taken to the Cumbria Clock Company workshops near Penrith, for its renovation.

After the 10-month restoration, the “Little Admiral” which stands on top of the clock revolves as it did in the 18th century, and the clock will now strike the hours and chime every quarter.

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A clock has been in place over York’s busiest shopping street since 1668. The current design dates from 1856 but the figure of the naval officer on top dates from 1779.

It will be put back in place tomorrow and on Monday at 11.30am the Archdeacon of York, Richard Seed, will re-dedicate the restored clock.

He said: “Churches hold so much of our heritage and history, and caring for and enhancing it is a task which congregations take on willingly. But it is expensive, and this work, which cost more than £54,000, would not have been possible without the support of local charitable trusts and feoffees.”

The Rev Jane Nattrass, vicar of St Martin’s, said yesterday: “It’s wonderful to have the clock back outside the church.

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“It’s one of York’s most famous sights, and we’re very glad to have it back in place.”

The clock will be wound weekly by members of the York Clock Group, local enthusiasts who have committed themselves to preserving York’s many public and historic clocks especially those built in the city.