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The Church Clock

Sundial It is not known when the first clock was installed in Prescot Parish Church. The Churchwardens' accounts earliest reference to a clock is in 1523, and there are many references throughout the 16th and 17th centuries to money paid for its upkeep and repair.
New clocks were installed in 1669 and 1695.
This early clock would not have had a pendulum but would instead have been regulated by a verge escapement and foliot. This type of clock was not a good time keeper, with errors of about 15 minutes a day. It probably struck only the hours. The clock at Prescot was one of the very few at this time that had an outside dial, and it showed the time with a single hand. Because of the poor time-keeping of the clock, it had to be set regularly by means of a sundial. This had to be viewed from the church tower.


The Present Church ClockClock mechanism
The present mechanism was ordered by the Churchwardens in 1806; from Mr. William Leigh of Newton-le-Willows, at a cost of £157 15s 0d. It has an anchor escapement and a pendulum and, being more accurate, has two hands. The chair frame is cast iron, with three trains of gears, and is held together by wedges. It works on the same principle as that of a cuckoo clock: driven by weights which lower themselves to the floor and a pendulum to regulate the time; the only major difference being the size. The clock is built on a massive scale; in fact, the pendulum measures over twelve feet in length.
The Restoration Work
After about 180 years of faithful service, the clock was removed from the tower in November 1987. Over this period, many people had maintained and repaired it. It was decided to bo some valuable restoration work on the clock whilst it was out of the tower. The failure of the clock itself was not the major reason for its removal; it was necessary because the tower itself was falling to pieces. In order to remove the clock from the tower, first of all it had to be totally dismantled, and then taken down piece by piece.
In November 1988, staff at Prescot Museum and volunteers began the task of assuring the future of the clock for at least the next 200 years.
Each clock of this type was individually made. Much of the restoration work has involved not only making and refurbishing each of the clock parts, but also the designing and making of special tools for the work.
A pattern for the 4 new clock dials (2 metre's in diameter) was made by Robert Dickinson and Alan Frodgham, and was cast by William Tatham Ltd. Rochdale. The new dials where painted black with gilt lettering was installed in the tower along with clock workings and rededicated in May 1994. (The Installation was completed and trials began on Christmas morning. 1993 (187 years to the day since the churchwardens first swung the pendulum).The old clock dials where made of Welsh slate with gold leaf lettering.

In Aug. 2013 some restoration work was done on the clock and a new part was made by Mr. Philip N. Irvine of Southport.

On YouTube Prescot Church 1806 Turret Clock Mechanism.

 

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