Glen Innes' historic John Dent built town hall clock to be completely refurbished

The Glen Innes clock will be completely refurbished for the first time since 1890.
The Glen Innes clock will be completely refurbished for the first time since 1890.

The historic Glen Innes clock will be completely refurbished to its original condition for the first time in over a century.

Built in 1890 by the Dent clockmaking company that also manufactured London's Big Ben, the Glen Innes town hall clock is one of the last fully analogue clock towers in Australia.

And in a meeting on Thursday night, councilors unanimously resolved to stay with tradition.

Presented with the option of installing a digital brain to drive the mechanism at a cost of $28,800, councilors instead chose to return it to its original analogue function, without the crutch of modern technology.

The adopted plan will take the town hall clocktower out of action for around four months, will require cherry-pickers and potentially street closure and will cost the council at least $49,650.

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This will be the first full refurbishment since the clock's installation, completed in August 1890 by a local watchmaker.

Mayor Carol Sparks said the clock will be a tourist attraction, drawing not just timekeeping fanatics but anyone with an interesting in heritage or history.

"It's such a rare beast.

"(Historic clock manufacturer) John Dent is renowned for his clockworks. That's a really good mark to have.

"It just really feels like the right thing to do, to preserve the history and to encourage people to come to town to have a look at this amazing clock and the way that it works."

Council director Graham Price said the clock was in pretty good nick for a 129 year old machine.

"At the moment it's not working properly, it's not keeping its time as well as what it should and it's missing one of its chimes," he said.

"So it does need some work but really the clock itself is in pretty good condition."

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The mechanism needs an overhaul, as it's never been fully taken out since installation. Mr Price, who is the director or development, regulatory and sustainability services, said once it's been pulled out and given a good service it will probably be as good as new.

He said it will be an adornment on what is already one of the best-preserved heritage streets in Australia, and agreed it will be a tourist draw.

"I think it will be," he said.

"It's amazing already, if you just go down the main street, how many visitors are here and taking photos of some of the heritage buildings."

In the refurbish and repair, horologist Tim Tracey will remove the entire clock mechanism and hands, re-hang the bells and replace linkage cables and clean the whole machine. The works will require a crane and possibly the closure of part of Grey Street.

The clock will have to be wound approximately every 10 days and be manually reset for daylight savings.

Mr Tracey will provide a manual train and train staff to reset time. He will be also available to make more major repairs from time to time, if needed.

John Dent developed many of the techniques and technology of modern clockmaking, including the Dent Chronometer and his company sent clocks from Switzerland to Japan.