A Good Time in Radstock is the project to update and refurbish the Market Hall clock and restore its hour strike that has been silent for many years.
The Market Hall has been a central and prominent feature of Radstock for nearly 120 years and the clock has become a symbol of Radstock, featuring prominently on the new road signs, and along with the old mining headgear is an integral part of Radstock’s town centre.
In Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee year of 1897, there was a ‘vocal section of the public clamouring for a town clock’. George Coombs, who initiated the building of the Market Hall in 1898, listened to that cry; and the clock was installed in the new building by F.S. Lane (Frank Lane) a Radstock based jeweller.
To start with, the clock dials were illuminated by gas light. After 1910 the gas lighting was paid for by the Urban District Council in return for the public use of the lavatories in the Market Hall, there being no other public conveniences in Radstock at that time.
The gas lights were converted to electricity in 1932 but, by 2015, this system was no longer functional and the dials were no longer illuminated. Sadly the hour strike has been silent for many years.
When the Market Hall was converted into a Museum just before the turn of the millennium Terry Taylor of Paulton, a highly experienced horologist, carried out a complete clean and refurbishment of the clock, but time has marched on and the clock is overdue for an overhaul.
As a contribution to the regeneration of central Radstock, and to restore pride in our town’s historic character, Radstock Museum, as custodian of the Market Hall, intends to bring the clock back into full operation as an accurate timekeeper, with automatic winding, with an illuminated dial and with the chime fully functional, but silenced at night!
It is estimated that the total cost of the clock restoration and upgrade is slightly more than £11,000.
The project is being done in phases and each phase will start as soon as sufficient funds have been raised for it.
The restoration will be managed by Radstock Museum and carried out by Symon Boyd of Timsbury Clocks and with advice from Terry Taylor.
PROGRESS SO FAR:
In mid-November 2015, at the Dragons’ Den event run by Big Local: Radstock & Westfield, the Museum made a successful pitch for financial support from Local Trust for the Big Lottery Fund. “A Good Time in Radstock”, was awarded £500 to kick start the fundraising campaign for the clock’s restoration.
Thanks to this grant we have restored the Clock Dial illumination.
St Peter’s Church, Camerton made a major contribution through a fund raising organ recital.
We have received several public donations the most significant of which was from Australia in memory of a loved one from this area.
The Museum held a fund raising Quiz in the Radstock Hotel at the end of Nov 2016 that raised the total funds to over £2500.
Norton Scaffolding erected the scaffolding needed to get to the top of the clock tower and Symon Boyd from Timsbury Clocks has now removed the hands, the hand drive mechanisms, the bell, the hammer return spring and the strike mechanism and taken all the pieces requiring restoration to his workshop. He found that apart from needing a very good clean up, the strike return spring needed replacing, one of the two trunnions on the bell strike shaft had sheared off and the bearings had suffered some minor damage.
He is now working to repair the bell strike shaft, is cleaning all the mechanisms and repainting where appropriate. A new spring is being made by J.R. Goold Vintage Steam Restorations Ltd at their works in Camerton.
At the same time as this is going on, one of our volunteers, Bob Taylor, has been working on the tower paintwork and sorting out the leak which has been causing water ingress into the new Research Room below the clock tower.
It is anticipated that the scaffolding will be in place for up to 8 weeks, which will allow enough time for all the work on the clock strike to be completed and for the tower paintwork to be renewed where required.
We hope that the bell may be able to strike again by the beginning of May.
Our fund raising efforts continue so that we can carry out the rest of the work as soon as possible.
If you wish to make a donation please visit our DONATION page for ways to do this.
We intend to keep everyone in Radstock informed about our fund-raising success for the project with regular updates in the local press.
You can also sign up to receive regular news by e mail of what is happening on this project and in the Museum itself. Sign up for the Museum Newsletter.