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Civic House clock to undergo timely repairs

Love it or hate it – Nelson’s clock tower has always kept time and some long overdue maintenance to the clock will ensure it stays that way.

In the first full overhaul of the clock since 2004, the bell, automatic winding and main clock assembly will be completely disassembled, cleaned, inspected and reassembled over a two week period.

This will mean that from Tuesday (2 June, 2020) the clock will not chime as usual and will not read the correct time.

The overhaul will be undertaken by local horologist (clock technician) John Rodgers, son of the clock’s original restorer Henry Rodgers. Mr Rodgers says the maintenance work is a chance to fix faults that have been ongoing since 2019.

“There are some parts of the clock that have not been touched since 1982 when my father installed the clock in the tower so it’s really a chance to check everything, remembering some of the parts are over a hundred years old.”

The building now known as Civic House was built in 1982, but the clock dates back to 1905 and is believed to have been built in England by J.B Joyce & Co.

Nelson Deputy Mayor Judene Edgar says the Civic House clock is an indispensable part of Nelson’s history and cityscape.

“To some it might not be the most aesthetically pleasing clock, but it is our clock. The story behind the clock and its tower are a unique part of Nelson’s history. That fact that it’s preservation is in the hands of the son of the original restorer is a lovely footnote in our city’s shared heritage.”

The clock was originally part of the Chief Post Office, a building that was deemed an earthquake risk and demolished in 1970. The clock’s parts were then meticulously disassembled, documented and put in storage for over a decade before Henry Rodgers began the restoration. This work was started in early 1982 and finished 18 months later after almost 1000 hours of work.

Part of the new clock’s structure was a unique electronic winding system devised by Henry Rodgers, made necessary after the Supreme Court ordered the almost completed new Post Office building to reduce its planned height by 25 feet.

Henry Rodgers also had to add a timer system to the clock after complaints from local residents that the clock, that then chimed 24 hours a day, was keeping them awake at night. It now operates only from 7am to 10pm but Nelsonians may miss the familiar chimes in daylight hours over the next two weeks.

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