Historic Watton clock tower in need of extensive repairs

PUBLISHED: 09:12 21 October 2015 | UPDATED: 09:12 21 October 2015

Watton clock tower and town sign on the High street.
Photographer: Graham Corney
Copy:  Ian Clarke
© EDP pics 2004 Tel: 01603 772434

Watton clock tower and town sign on the High street. Photographer: Graham Corney Copy: Ian Clarke © EDP pics 2004 Tel: 01603 772434 Contact:

For some time now the people of Watton have been missing a tick – and for that matter a tock.

The town’s clock has been broken for months and it appears that repairs could cost more than expected as the tower which houses it is leaking.

Dating back to the 17th century, the prominent structure, in the high street, was built to warn of fire after a blaze destroyed a large portion of the town.

As it is a Grade-II listed building there are strict rules about the work which can be carried out.

Watton Town Council is looking at how much refurbishment to the tower and clock could cost as well as seeking grants and funding for any such project.

Watton mayor Ken Birch said: “We have had problems with the clock tower. We have had someone there to have a look and we have found it is in a particularly poor state.

“We are trying to find out how much it will cost to repair.

“It was built in 1679, so that is going back a long time. They used different materials to those used now.”

Town clerk Jane Scarrott is looking at funding opportunities that might be available to the town as the cost could well go in to the tens of thousands.

She said: “We want to get the clock going again. We want it to be a focal point in the town.”

Over the years the tower has been used for a number of purposes including the tourist information centre and more recently as Santa’s grotto at Christmas.

It is also used to fly the flag for the town on special occasions.

Breckland and town councillor Keith Gilbert said: “There is no point repairing the clock if it is in an unsafe environment.

“I would have thought it is going to end up costing a lot of money as you have to start at the top and make sure the roof is safe and water tight.

“It is quite a unique clock. It has been looked after by various volunteers over the years but now it is at the stage where it needs serious professional work on it.”

The clock was built in 1679 by the mercer Christopher Hey. In 1827 a new clock was installed and cement was used to clad the tower.

Later, in 1935 a new clock face was installed to mark the silver jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary.

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