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St Thomas' Church Clock

15th October 2020 @ 1:01pm – by Henbury Webteam
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"The Clock in the Church Tower has stopped!"

This statement would normally send me scurrying up the spiral staircase to the clock, one floor up from the ground and where the organ pipes are.

The problem was that we were in lockdown and the Chester Diocese would not allow anyone to enter the Church. This instruction was eventually modified, and I was allowed in with various restrictions.

As you would expect, the clock is 175 years old like the Church, and was made by J. Smith & Sons at their Midland Steam Clock Works in Derby. (Sounds more imposing than Silicon Valley or Wuhan.)

As you can see, the clock is in two halves, the GoingTrain, which moves the hands, in brass and the Striking Train, on the right in iron, which strikes the hours on a bell, situated right at the top of the tower.

When I arrived, the small weight in the second picture was resting on the floor, and the massive pendulum was stationary. The clock was fitted with an automatic winding mechanism about twenty years ago and in operation the weight is wound up before it reaches the floor.

It is possible to see two bicycle chains connecting the clock to the electric winding mechanism on the floor above, in the first picture.

The clock stopping coincided with a long power cut, and so the first thing to look at was the battery in the electrical control box. This battery stores power to keep the mechanism winding when the mains supply fails.
Sure enough the battery was faulty and a new one was purchased. More waiting for clearance to enter the Church, funerals and christenings took preference over clocks.

After the battery had been fitted, the mechanism for raising the weight had to be manually wound backwards so that all the switches were reset properly. Unfortunately, as you know, clocks with pendulums do not run backwards and so the bicycle chain had to be split and removed so that the winder could be wound backwards on the floor above.

When the chain was reinstalled, all was well and the clock is back in operation.

Many thanks to David Plews for all his efforts and for sending in this fascinating article.
Henbury is not the same without the sound of the Church clock!

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