Traditions remain when it comes to turning back time in Leeds

As technology advances at a rapid rate there will be one thing that time literally cannot change in a West Yorkshire city this weekend.

27 October 2017.
Eric Ambler who is in charge of changing the time on the Leeds Town Hall clock.
27 October 2017. Eric Ambler who is in charge of changing the time on the Leeds Town Hall clock.

The Yorkshire Post has been given a behind the scenes look at the workings of the town hall clock in Leeds ahead of the official end of British summertime which will see the clocks go back at 2am tomorrow.

Retired police officer Eric Ambler, 64 is the functions supervisor for the authority and is responsible for turning back time at the town hall and also the clock at Trinity Church on Boar Lane elsewhere in the city.

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Tomorrow morning he will climb the winding 209 steps in a helical staircase, which is the only route to the top of the clock tower, and manually change the time - it cannot be done by timer or remote device.

Mr Ambler says it is a fairly simple process, despite the clock mechanism being almost original and dating back to 1860, adding that is it like winding on your watch.

He said: “It is just what I have picked up from the clock maintenance people. It is quite simple but it is manual, there are no remote controls.”

He unfastens four nuts and bolts, winds a shaft and turns the pointers using a dial to see what is showing on the clock face outside. This weekend he will wind the clock, made by Dent, forward 11 times as you never turn a clock back he warns.

But of course, there have been times when time has stood still.

Mr Ambler recalls: “The clock stops chiming at 10pm and restarts at 7am so as not to disturb the patients at Leeds General Infirmary.

“But one morning the landlord from the Town Hall Tavern came in saying ‘your bloomin’ clock woke me up at 4am’. I said he must have been dreaming but I had a look and the hands were jammed and it was striking at 11pm, 1am, 3am and we had to turn it off.”