St James' Historic Clock
For over a hundred years St James’s tower clock has watched over the people of West Teignmouth – and, indeed, has been many residents’ primary regulator of time as it chimed its way unceasingly every fifteen minutes.
However, as a number of residents have recently noticed, the clock had of late been showing its age and not keeping time with the same consistency to which we have all become accustomed over the years, and generations.
A recent inspection of the clock faces has revealed that the mountings are showing signs of corrosion and now need to be replaced to prepare the clock for another century (and more) of faithful service. This had also damaged the stonework and emergency temporary repairs have taken place to secure the safety of the west-facing clock face.
We now need to carry out permanent repairs that will include removing all three dials, and then refitting them using stainless steel fixings. Each clock face will also be sandblasted, repainted and re-gilded before being hoisted back into position. We look forward to working with our friends at West Access (rope access specialists) in carrying out this latest project at St James’.
The total project cost for this work is approximately £8600. St James’ Parochial Church Council have started a fundraising campaign to raise money towards the renovation of this much loved community resource, and donations will be welcomed in church, at the Parish Office, or online at St James’ website: www.stjames-teignmouth.org.uk.
The clock was manufactured by John Smith & Sons of Midland Clock Works (now Smith of Derby Ltd and part of the Smith of Derby Group of clockmaking companies) in 1896 having been ordered by the then churchwarden, W T Jordan esq, at a cost of £153.0s.0d!
It takes the form of a flat bed movement incorporating hour strike and quarter Westminster chimes. Interestingly, although the ledger states ‘Cambridge Chimes’ Westminster Quarters is the most common name for a melody used by a set of clock bells to chime on each quarter hour. The number of chime sets matches the number of quarter hours that have passed. It is also known as the Westminster Chimes or the Cambridge Quarters from its place of origin, the Church of St Mary the Great, Cambridge.
The movement has a double three-legged gravity escapement with pendulum action driving the 3 x 5’6” diameter cast iron skeleton dials that are finished black with quarter ornate spandrels. The dials are fixed into position by means of 3 L-shaped brackets that hold the dials 4½” away from the wall and are fixed into the stonework using cement.
The hands, Roman numerals, outer minute marks and quarter spandrels are gilded using 23½ carat double thickness gold leaf which in clean air conditions can last up to 25 years as opposed to 10-15 years using gold paint.
In March 2010 Smith of Derby converted the movement to autowinding using their AW8 system that makes the clock automatic i.e. no hand winding needed although minor timekeeping regulation is still required periodically. Smith of Derby maintain the clock and carry out a service once a year to keep the clock is good order.