Few Eurostar travellers arriving at St Pancras Station will have any idea of the remarkable survival story behind the huge clock at the end of the platforms. The elegant Victorian dial nearly met an untimely end in the 1960’s after it was sold off as part of a modernisation programme.
During removal it was accidentally dropped from the crane and the fragments, no longer fit for its new owner, were destined to be scrapped. Enter a British Rail guard with a passion for Victorian architecture. He was granted permission to salvage everything, which he painstakingly reassembled onto the side of his Nottinghamshire barn.
30 years later, the heritage movement that had witnessed the loss of the old clock and almost the destruction of the whole station now saw its rebirth as a 21st century international terminus. A stand-in clock had been in place for some years but the new owners, High Speed 1, wanted the original reinstated but it was too fragile. E Dent & Co who had built the clock, and the Big Ben clock, commissioned Smith of Derby to partner with them to build an exact replica. Were it not for the original, which the owner who was now well into his 90s allowed us to inspect and measure, such a project would not have been possible.
The latest clock is fabricated from aluminium, but matches the original in every detail even to the real Welsh slate diamonds with gilded numerals. Synchronous power and GPS controlled backup keeps time and automatically corrects at summer/winter changeover.