Clock restoration at Larchfield

Jul 22 2015

The tower clock is a traditional Victorian hand wound mechanism made by the noted firm of JW Benson of London in 1891. It had unfortunately not worked for quite a number of years. Les Kirk Clocks (based in Derbyshire) were contacted and came over prior to agreeing a programme of work. The clock was removed from the tower by Les and the Larchfield Estate team.

Before - the clock face had seen better days

Back in Les’s workshop the clock was completely dismantled, after extensive cleaning, the mechanical issues were attended to and all the pivots, pinions and working parts that had accumulated rust over a period of time finely polished - this was a major task!

The mechanism reassembled after cleaning

We also commissioned a replica clock face for the benefit of guests at events facing into the courtyard.

The mechanism was finally assembled and set up on test. During the cleaning process it became apparent that the clock had been repainted at some time in the past and although there were faint traces showing the original colour to be green we could now see various shades of black that really did no justice at all to a clock of this stature.

Although the plan had always been to keep everything as original as possible and not to interfere with the integrity of the mechanism, it was reluctantly decided that this was a case where the clock really did deserve a new coat of paint. Les Kirk used his knowledge to get paint mixed to what he felt was as close as possible to the original colour – everything was stripped down to bare components again and then all parts were primed and painted by hand – as they would have been when the clock was first made.

The bare components stripped and ready for gloss
Parts after a fresh coat of glass

The original copper dial was restored and the numerals and hands finished in genuine gold leaf. The drives that turn the hands were in a bad way and needed much attention.

The clock hammer that strikes on the bell had been exposed to the elements for many years and parts of it had completely eroded away. After major work it was ready to strike again. All the relevant pulleys were refurbished and new cables and fixings provided for safety.

The clock had been running well on test now and installation was booked for early May 2015. Again with help from Larchfield staff, the clock was lifted into position and within a few hours was ticking away again.

The fully restored clock face looking superb in the sunshine

Amazingly the complete clock contains over 280 components so, whenever you are at Larchfield, please take a few moments to look at the clock as it a treasure!