Fire Station Clock Gets New Faces

5 August 2014

Four new clock faces have been installed on the Wellington Central Fire Station clock tower to replace the deteriorating and damaged faces.

Glazier John-Paul Fenemor with the Wellington Central Fire Station clock.

Glazier John-Paul Fenemor did a timely job on the Wellington Central Fire Station clock

The north clock face on the Oriental Bay side suffered badly in a storm in 2012, losing part of its glass face. But all four faces were cracked and brittle.

The original Vitrolite glass clock faces date from the 1920s. The replica faces are made from toughened glass with the Roman numerals digitally printed on the back.

The replacement faces have been made by Metro Performance Glass in Wellington. “Toughened safety glass should have a life expectancy of over 50 years,” says Glazing Manager Sean Owbridge. “The other ones got damaged because of a cavity behind them where water collected and made the Vitrolite very brittle.”

Sean says the new faces will be almost double the thickness and more weather-resistant. He says the clock mechanism has not been touched, nor have the hands. Each clock face is made up of six pieces of glass so it could be fitted around the hands.

Christchurch glass conservator Graham Stewart is now restoring one of the original faces, to be displayed at Wellington City & Sea Museum next year.

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

The tower was removed as a precaution following the Napier earthquake in 1934 and in 1939 the clock was installed at the art deco-era fire station. The clock refurbishment coincides with earthquake-strengthening work on the fire station building.