Historic Clock Gets a Facelift

4 June 2013

The clock at Wellington Central Fire Station, which was damaged by a storm last year, is having a facelift.

Graham Stewart and the clock.

Glass conservator Graham Stewart is restoring the famous clock

Resize

It will be out of action for the next 8 -10 months while all four of its faces are removed and replaced.

Renowned Christchurch glass conservator Graham Stewart, who is doing the refurbishment, has taken a rubbing of the old clock face to help create the new ones.

Made from strong vitrolite glass, they will look just like the old ones.

Built in 1923 with funds bequeathed to Wellington City Council by John Blundell (owner of the Evening Post newspaper), the clock was originally part of a clock tower that adorned the Town Hall and is still owned and maintained by the Council.

It was removed as a precaution following the Napier earthquake in 1934 and in 1939 was installed at the fire station where it has become something of an icon.

The north clock face, on the Oriental Bay side of the tower, suffered most in last year’s storm, losing part of its glass face.

Graham found that another part of the clock has been damaged over the years by water trapped behind its face.

“They first installed the clock faces with mortar; however water must have seeped in during that process - which gradually led to major cracks forming in the glass. So rather than risk another part falling off, we opted to remove that face altogether.”

Graham says he’s often referred to as the ‘humpty dumpty man’, putting things back together again. As part of the project, he is hoping to create one complete clock face from pieces of the original four and this may be displayed in a museum.

The refurbishment of the clock is expected to cost around $40,000 and coincides with earthquake-strengthening work being done on the art deco-era fire station building.