Stop the clocks! Historic Gorleston library monument to return

The Carnegie clock on the old library in 1974 and in storage in 2022.

An iconic clock from Gorleston will be restored and returned to the High Street. - Credit: Archant / GYBC

After being in storage for more than 40 years, an historical clock in Gorleston is set to return to the heart of the high street.

Back in 1907, the then County Borough of Great Yarmouth purchased the clock for £110 and placed it on the corner of Gorleston's Carnegie library, making it visible from all directions.

The old Gorleston Carnegie Library in September 1975

FLASHBACK: The old Gorleston Carnegie Library in September 1975 - Credit: Archant Archives

Following the demolition of the old library in 1975, the clock was put into storage for safety.

Now thanks to the hard work of community volunteers and the support of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, the clock will be returned to Gorleston High Street with a new home at Palace Cinema.

Before being returned to the High Street the clock will undergo restoration by the professionals at Michlmayr Clock and Watch Restorers of Norwich over the next few months, with the hope it can go back on display this summer.

The Carnegie Clock in storage

The Carnegie Clock has been in storage for over 40 years. - Credit: Great Yarmouth Borough Council

Gorleston Carnegie Clock Group raised around £6,000 towards the restoration and maintenance before the pandemic put a stop to their efforts, with the borough council stepping into fund the remaining £8,500 cost.

The group worked with St Andrews ward borough councillors Marlene Fairhead and Barbara Wright and Great Yarmouth Borough Council leader Carl Smith to secure the remaining funding.

Marlene Fairhead (left), Sheila Russell, Paul Rouse and Carl Smith with the Carnegie clock.

Marlene Fairhead (left), Sheila Russell, Paul Rouse and Carl Smith with the Carnegie clock. - Credit: Great Yarmouth Borough Council

Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said: "The Gorleston Carnegie Clock Group has worked so hard to get the clock reinstated along Gorleston High Street. We are happy to be able to help restore this landmark.

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"The centre of Gorleston is really important for the borough, and I know lots of people will have fond memories of the clock and will be pleased to see it back in pride of place."

Michlmayr staff prepare the clock for removal

Michlmayr staff prepare the clock for removal from storage. - Credit: Great Yarmouth Borough Council

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: "The Carnegie Clock is an important part of Gorleston's history, so it was only right that we gave it back to the local community.

"The passion and dedication shown to the clock's restoration is clear and I look forward to seeing it on public view in its new position at the Palace Cinema."

Simon Michlmayr and Sheila Russell discuss the clock over some of the mechanism.

Simon Michlmayr and Sheila Russell discuss the clock over some of the mechanism. - Credit: Great Yarmouth Borough Council

As part of the move the ownership of the clock will pass from the County Council to the Borough, which has agreed a free permanent loan to Palatial Leisure.

What was a Carnegie Library?

More than 2,500 Carnegie libraries were built around the world between 1883 and 1929, including 660 in the United Kingdom, with funding from Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.

The old Gorleston Carnegie Library in May, 1974

FLASHBACK: The old Gorleston Carnegie Library in May, 1974. The original caption read: "While readers continue to borrow books from Gorleston Library, demolition continues of the old tramway depot in Baker street. - Credit: Archant Archives

The Gorleston library was opened in 1907 following a £2,000 grant from Carnegie but was demolished in 1975 when the site, together with that of a former tram service depot were developed into the present-day library.

in 2015, Great Yarmouth Mercury reader Julie Grint shared memories of the library in Gorleston.

She said: "I remember the children’s library being upstairs, where the ticking of the clock could be heard. This still exists, in storage at Great Yarmouth, awaiting repair and a suitable location."

That same year, King's Lynn's Carnegie Library celebrated its 110th anniversary.