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Sheerness town clock removed and sent to Derby due to safety fears


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With a long, loud blast of a horn, the clock tower at the centre of Sheerness bade farewell to the Kent seaside town which has been its home for nearly 120 years.

The timepiece was dismantled because of safety fears and is now on its way to Derby 187 miles away where experts are planning to restore it to its original condition.

Day Four: The column section of the Sheerness clock tower is craned onto a lorry ready to be taken away for restoration
Day Four: The column section of the Sheerness clock tower is craned onto a lorry ready to be taken away for restoration
Day Four: The base of the Sheerness clock tower is craned onto a lorry ready to be taken away for restoration
Day Four: The base of the Sheerness clock tower is craned onto a lorry ready to be taken away for restoration
Day Four: The clock section, protected by black plastic, is craned onto a lorry at Sheerness ready to take it away for restoration
Day Four: The clock section, protected by black plastic, is craned onto a lorry at Sheerness ready to take it away for restoration

Shoppers have spent the past four days watching it being pulled apart by a team of engineers from clock-makers Smith of Derby.

The 36-feet tall red, white and blue octagonal tower was installed in 1902 to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII.

It will return in five months time in its original green complete with gold gilt.

It had been caged off since February after a routine inspection by Swale council discovered dangerous cracks in the cast iron especially near the top.

Work began removing it on Monday.

Day One: The roof, bell and 'clock box' of the 119-year-old Sheerness clock tower is removed by Smith of Derby engineers. It will be taken away to be restored. Picture: Donna Mansi
Day One: The roof, bell and 'clock box' of the 119-year-old Sheerness clock tower is removed by Smith of Derby engineers. It will be taken away to be restored. Picture: Donna Mansi
Day One: The roof, bell and 'clock box' of the 119-year-old Sheerness clock tower is removed by Smith of Derby engineers. It will be taken away to be restored. Picture: Donna Mansi
Day One: The roof, bell and 'clock box' of the 119-year-old Sheerness clock tower is removed by Smith of Derby engineers. It will be taken away to be restored. Picture: Donna Mansi
Day two: Engineers from Smith of Derby use a crane to remove the 119-year-old Sheerness clock tower. It will be taken away for a full restoration. Picture: Donna Mansi
Day two: Engineers from Smith of Derby use a crane to remove the 119-year-old Sheerness clock tower. It will be taken away for a full restoration. Picture: Donna Mansi

Scaffolding was erected around the tower to allow the restoration crew to remove the top and the bell and then crane away the 'clock box'.

On the second day the eight-sided column, painted in colours to celebrate the Queen's jubilee and containing a metal ladder to provide access to the clock's mechanism for maintenance, was pulled down and set to one side.

On Wednesday the base was freed from ground.

A lorry arrived this morning (Thursday) so the clock could be craned aboard and driven to specialist workshops.

A small crowd of shoppers gathered to watch the delicate operation while traffic was barred from the Broadway.

Day two: Engineers from Smith of Derby use a crane to remove the 119-year-old Sheerness clock tower. It will be taken away for a full restoration. Picture: Donna Mansi
Day two: Engineers from Smith of Derby use a crane to remove the 119-year-old Sheerness clock tower. It will be taken away for a full restoration. Picture: Donna Mansi
Day three: Sheerness town centre looks strange with its 119-year-old clock tower lying horizontal on the ground waiting to be taken away for restoration by Smith of Derby
Day three: Sheerness town centre looks strange with its 119-year-old clock tower lying horizontal on the ground waiting to be taken away for restoration by Smith of Derby
Day three: Sheerness town centre looks strange with its 119-year-old clock tower lying horizontal on the ground waiting to be taken away for restoration by Smith of Derby
Day three: Sheerness town centre looks strange with its 119-year-old clock tower lying horizontal on the ground waiting to be taken away for restoration by Smith of Derby

Finally all the parts were loaded onto a truck. As they left the town, driver Steve Crowe gave a long, loud blast on his horn to mark the clock's temporary farewell.

The restoration will cost council taxpayers nearly £160,000.

Martin Butchers, Smith's complex projects manager, said: "It has not been without its challenges but it came down a lot easier than we had originally anticipated, considering it had been there since 1902 and was in a severe state of corrosion. But it was a real pleasure to dismantle it and a greater pleasure to take it away for restoration."

He added: "It will be a long process. We are looking at between five and six months. We are going to completely rebuild it, paint it and re-gild it as it was originally."

Although the clock will be missing from the town centre this Christmas, there are plans for stalls, the annual lantern parade and Minster-on-Sea Rotary Club's Santa Stroll to go ahead on Saturday, December 4. Sheerness Town Council has invested in new lights which will make their debut this year.

Day Four: Time has flown. The Sheerness clock tower is no more having left for Derby to be fully restored
Day Four: Time has flown. The Sheerness clock tower is no more having left for Derby to be fully restored
Day Four: Time has flown. The Sheerness clock tower is no more having left for Derby to be restored
Day Four: Time has flown. The Sheerness clock tower is no more having left for Derby to be restored
Day Four: Time has flown. The Sheerness clock tower is no more having left for Derby
Day Four: Time has flown. The Sheerness clock tower is no more having left for Derby
Day three: Sheerness town centre looks strange with its 119-year-old clock tower lying horizontal on the ground waiting to be taken away for restoration by Smith of Derby
Day three: Sheerness town centre looks strange with its 119-year-old clock tower lying horizontal on the ground waiting to be taken away for restoration by Smith of Derby

Read more: All the latest from Sheppey

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