Tick-tock...why it’s time for a change at St Mary’s

The 19th century clock at St Mary's Church which is now kept running by modern technology - much to the relief of volunteers
The 19th century clock at St Mary's Church which is now kept running by modern technology - much to the relief of volunteers
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They say time waits for no man - and that is definitely the case at the historic St Mary’s Church in Horncastle.

For the last 150 years, volunteers have rewound the church tower clock by hand at least three times a week.

It is no easy job, especially on a winter’s night.

First, there’s the narrow spiral staircase to negotiate and then ladders to climb.

That’s even before lifting and fitting the heavy winding handle into the actual mechanism.

The weights for the chimes and strikers weigh over a quarter of a tonne each.

With that in mind, it takes a very fit person to wind each one - without breaking into sweat.

However, all that has changed - thanks to the wonders of modern engineering.

From this month, the clock will be wound automatically by two specially fitted units.

That means time has literally run out for the old system.

It also means an end to those long, lonely and cold climbs up the draughty tower.

Church spokesman Bob Wayne said: “I suppose it is disappointing the old system is redundant.

“There is no question the mechanism would have happily continued to carry on serving the community as it has done for over 150 years.

“But there are health and safety considerations for a lone climber and the church’s building team feel the time has come for a less personally demanding way of keeping the town’s time.

“To be honest with you, I think we’re all a bit relieved.”

The automatic winding equipment was supplied by Richard Clocks of Smeeting Westerby.

So, the next time you set your watch by the church clock, just remember all those hardly souls who kept it ticking over the last 150 years...