Time stands still for landmark clock
by Rachel Williams, The Examiner, 17 January, 2008.
Launceston’s landmark Post Office clock will fall silent today for the longest time in its history to allow for a major maintenance programme.
The melodic tunes of the Westminster Chimes, which can be heard across the city and in surrounding suburbs depending on the wind direction, will be back in action in around two weeks.
The quarter-hour chimes and hourly strikes have normally continued during regular maintenance checks, but the mechanisms will be out of action as horologist Graham Mulligan, from Clockwise, attends to 98 years of grease and dust.
The clock, made by UK company Gillett and Johnston and first used in 1910, is mechanically driven by weights.
Launceston City Council building services coordinator Warren Prewer said it was manually wound until 1969 when it became electrical.
“It has stopped for up to several hours or a day, while pulleys have been replaced but it has never been shut down for major maintenance on the mechanism,” Mr Prewer said.
“It is coming up to 100 years old and it has a build-up of oil in it and when the dust gets into it, it acts as an abrasive, so we figured it was due for a good clean up.”
Mr Mulligan said the clock, which was twice the size of anything he had previously worked on, was in surprisingly good condition.
Its mechanics were similar to a grandfather clock, he said.
Mr Mulligan said the clock was not common because it had a three-train function – which means it strikes, chimes and tells the time. Similar clocks around the city only tell the time and strike the hours.
Launceston Mayor Albert van Zetten said: “The Post Office clock is an important part of Launceston’s heritage and ensuring this historic landmark is properly maintained for future generations to enjoy is vital.”