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Time to remember

Released: Tuesday, 07 November 2017

Adur & Worthing Councils is blessed with many people who have devoted years to the public good. But none have been as ever-present as the star of this story.

Based in probably the smallest room in Worthing Town Hall - and with a presence that rarely goes unnoticed - Worthing Town Hall clock has been keeping an eye (and time) on the council HQ since it opened in 1933.

And at this time of year, more eyes than ever are fixed on the prominent timepiece as the bongs dictate to the whole borough what time Remembrance commemorations begin.

To ensure the two minute silence happens in a timely fashion, members of the Councils' building surveyor team have been overseeing a maintenance check on the clock.

In late October, Smiths of Derby visited the town hall to carry out the work (you may have heard some random 'bonging' outside of the usual 15 minute windows).

But, after less than an hour, the clock was back ticking on time and in fine fettle for this weekend's commemorations.

One of the people tasked with checking in on the timepiece is Mark White, the Councils' senior building surveyor.

PR17-153 - Mark White, the Councils' senior building surveyor with the clock mechanism

He is the one who takes us on the tour of the area, navigating through a secret doorway, up two ladders and across a meccano-style bridge before reaching the trap door. Then after climbing a metal ladder you enter the clock chamber.

PR17-153 - Through the secret doorway to get to the ladders that lead up to the clock

The noise is quite soothing - until the big chimes kick in.

Mark said:

“We come up whenever we need to to be honest. It's always an interesting place to come but you try and time visits after the hour, so you're not deafened by a series of chimes!”

PR17-153 - Mark White, the Councils senior building surveyor adjusting the clock mechanism

The clock was installed when the town hall opened in 1933 and has been ticking for most of the time since - although occasionally, outside factors mean that it has take a stop-gap.

For instance, there was the time at the turn of the century when birds stopped time - literally - see the full story on The Argus website ...

In more recent years, there was a slight stoppage as the council installed a digital system to work alongside the mechanical clock and control the chimes.

As Mark explains:

“It's a pretty old clock so you cannot always get the parts which is why we have a separate system.”

“Sometimes it's just a couple of minutes out so you have to stop the hands until time has caught up. Other times we need to speak to industry experts.”

The clock is just one of hundreds of assets that the Councils buildings team deal with.

Steve Spinner, the Councils' Head of Business and Technical Services, said:

“We look after all the council buildings. Worthing Town Hall is our primary asset, but we also look after beach huts, industrial units and car parks.”

“The best bit about the job is the variety.”

See also: Remembrance Services

(PR17-153)

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