Parish Clock

Following a period of inactivity, in 2007 the clock on All Saints’ Parish Church tower was overhauled and the striking mechanism of the clock which strikes the hour was restored. The clock was out of action for over two years mainly because the initial estimates of approximately £13,000 to carry out the necessary renovations caused the members of the Select Vestry to proceed slowly as they also had to spend £23,000 rebuilding a section of the graveyard wall at Riverside.

Mr Ken Cardwell, who was churchwarden at the time, is a retired engineer with a special interest in clocks. He suggested to the Select Vestry that Ian McClure and Mervyn Crooks of ‘For Old Time’s Sake’ should be given an opportunity to inspect the mechanism, prepare a report and give a quotation.

Mr McClure has researched into the history of the clock:

This clock was erected in 1878 by William Lowry of Antrim. Lowry was a watchmaker by profession, and records show that he worked in Antrim from about 1850 to 1880. However, he must have taken time out to supervise the installation of this clock. There is no makers name on the clock, but it is thought to be Scottish, probably made by Miller of Glasgow.

When, down the years, it was serviced or repaired, those attending to it wrote their names and sometimes the date on the wooden housing, and this gives us an insight into the men who looked after it. For example, one of the names reads:" David A. Quigley, Gas Works, Antrim" Those were the days when the boss could send his staff to attend to his own problems! A brass plaque fixed to the housing reads: "This clock was overhauled & new opals fitted to dials & hands replaced & refitted by T.A. Forrest and John Cunningham. Without scaffolding. Restarted May 1st 1937 the year of the coronation of George VI and Elizabeth"

The clock was driven by two weights, one to drive the pendulum and the hands, the other to strike the hours. The weights were massive, each weighing about 200 lbs. Every week someone climbed a flight of stairs and four ladders and with a heavy winding handle wound up the weights - a daunting task for anyone!

When my colleague Mervyn and I saw the clock, it was covered in layers of grime and dried oil. We dismantled it completely, and our first errand was to the car-wash - to get it steam-cleaned! Even that did not remove all the dried oil, it required wire-brushing with paint thinners to remove all of it. Then the bearings were polished, and the wear in various parts which had taken place over the years was removed. We fitted two electric motors to remove the need to wind it every week, and then it was ready to haul back up to the clock tower and rebuild. Two weights still drive the clock, but they are much lighter than the original ones, and they are now rewound by the electric motors.

The members of the Select Vestry are grateful to Ian McClure and Mervyn Crooks for the way in which they have repaired the clock and striking mechanism. We are also indebted to Antrim Borough Council’s environmental Services Committee who supplied a grant of £2,000. Those who have lived in Antrim for a while will remember Annie McSherry’s Horse Shoe Shop on Bridge Street. Annie bequeathed £1,000 to each of the four main denominations as a measure of her thanks to all who supported her business. It was agreed that the £1,000 given to All Saints’ should be put to the cost of the renovations as this generous gesture came from a member of the community and the clock is the community clock for Antrim. Several parishioners who wish to remain anonymous, including one gift of £1,000, have also contributed very generously to the repair of the clock and we are most grateful for their gifts.