Published: 00:01, 21 January 2017
Time has stood still in Rochester for more than two years.
But 2017 will ring in the changes for the majestic Sir Cloudesley Shovell clock when it starts ticking again.
The historic timepiece, a gift from Sir Cloudesley who was MP for Rochester from 1695 to 1701, has been looking sorry for itself.
Wear and tear over centuries has taken its toll and much of the clock has had to be dismantled for safety reasons.
But at last the £40,000 funding to get the striking-looking clock at the Corn Exchange working again is now in place. And planning permission to get the repairs done on the listed building have been granted.
The next step will be to install a curved scaffold over the busy road, frequented by thousands of tourists ever year, to lower the frame.
It is then due to be sent to a specialist workshop in Wales where a mould will be created to make the glass reinforced box.
Meanwhile the clock hands and Shovell coat of arms have been stored in the Guildhall Museum where craftsmen from Chatham’s Historic Dockyard have been drafted in to restore them. The bracket is to be repaired with reinforced wood
Cllr Adrian Gulvin has been leading the campaign to get the clock working again and find the cash.
He said: “It has been a very slow process but thing are moving slowly. I have secured a loan from the council on the strict understanding that it will be replaced.”
Cllr Gulvin is in talks about donations with the City of Rochester Society and Rochester Bridge Wardens’ Trust. He has also secured payments made by the council and developers as part of a planning consent.
He said: “We had a developer who wanted to build flats near Star Hill in Rochester and the money was to be allocated to the Great Lines. But I argued that this money should be for Rochester.
“These are hard financial times and some would say why spend this much on a clock? But effectively the council won’t be paying a penny.
“We put a lot in store in attracting tourism to Rochester. The clock is a landmark and is virtually on every postcard you see of the town.
“To me this is a good investment. Also we must remember we are just temporary guardians to pass on these historic landmarks to future generations.
“I don’t think our grandchildren would thank us for allowing them to fall into disrepair.”
Cllr Gulvin said he hoped work would start in March with the project complete in time for the Dickens Festival at the beginning of May.