Iconic Guildford Projecting Clock Restored to its Former Resplendence

After extensive and delicate clock restoration work the Guildford projecting clock has been refinished and returned to its home over Guildford High Street

Posted on 16 June, 2014 by Smith of Derby.


THE beauty and heritage of the Guildford town projecting clock, one of the most iconic time pieces in southern England, has been preserved for future generations after specialist clockmakers Smith of Derby completed a "full and highly intricate" dial restoration.

The detailed work included stripping off and re-gilding the 23½ carat English gold leaf gilding and repairing parts of the mechanical clock movement, and will ensure that the 1683 projecting clock will continue to run for decades to come.

The clock, which projects over Guildford High St from the Guildhall and which has regularly appeared on television, has a traditional two train with recoil anchor escapement and has been serviced and cared for by Smith of Derby for a great many years.

Smith of Derby had previously replaced the hand winding operation with automatic winding equipment and were asked to carry out the dial restoration works in time for the Freedom Parade in the town later this month.

The clock case is made from English oak with a cast iron internal frame and is approximately 8ft high x 8ft wide x 2ft 6in deep. It is supported by ironwork which is shrouded in lead covered oak timber work, stabilised by ironwork outriggers with ornate gilded iron scrolls.

Two clockmakers initially worked from scaffolding, which fully enclosed the clock, and they removed the clock hands, dials and all transmission equipment (bevel gears, con rods etc).

Following removal of the dials and timber corner posts, it became evident that there was considerable rot underneath the paintwork and some of the scrollwork.

Daedalus Conservation also worked on this project and their woodworking craftsmen cut out and replaced the areas of concern, following which Smith of Derby clockmakers painted all the woodwork with exterior quality weatherproof gloss paint, including abrasion of all ironwork and application of anti corrosive primer.

Size was then applied to the previously gilded areas before the application of 23½ carat English gold leaf. The gold leaf was applied by hand and is double thickness, which means that the lustre will last for another 25 – 30 years, whilst the paintwork will last for generations.

The dials, hands and corner pieces were taken to Smith of Derby’s Derby workshops for factory restoration and the bevel gears that operate the dial motion works and the drive train leading back to the clock were also overhauled.

The project took around four weeks and two clockmakers were originally on site, however wet weather and the discovery of the wood decay had hampered the operation. Therefore to ensure the works were completed on time without compromising quality, by the fourth week the number of clockmakers was doubled to four.

Martin Butchers, Technical Sales Engineer, who has worked on the clock previously and knows it extremely well, said: "The clock is held in very high esteem in Guildford and Smith of Derby are very proud of this restoration project. However, more importantly, our clients, Guildford Borough Council, are delighted with the end result.

Mr Butchers said: "It's a big job and to see the clock restored to its former resplendence is a sight to behold. The people of Guildford are rightly very proud of their clock, it means a lot to them, and the Council was worried about it falling into decay. We wanted to do a job that would ensure its future for years to come."

Cllr Gordon Jackson, Guildford Borough Councils Lead Councillor for Economic Development, said: “I am delighted that the works on the Guildhall clock are now complete, returning this iconic landmark to its former glory.

“The intricate dial restoration has been completed ahead of schedule, meaning it can have pride of place just in time for our planned WW1 commemorative events.”

For more details please contact:
Jane Arnold, Director - North Territory
Telephone: +44 (0)7800 689410 or +44 (0) 1332 257118
Email: Jane.Arnold@SmithofDerby.com

To read a bit more about the dial restoration of this iconic public clock have a look at the BBC article here

Or for any other queries regarding clock repair and clock conservation feel free to contact us here

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