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Yarmouth Town Hall clock

PUBLISHED: 09:15 13 December 2008 | UPDATED: 12:32 03 July 2010

SINCE the day the Town Hall in Great Yarmouth was built, it has been a weekly chore for porters to climb the many steps to the clock tower to manually wind the clock.

SINCE the day the Town Hall in Great Yarmouth was built, it has been a weekly chore for porters to climb the many steps to the clock tower to manually wind the clock.

And as an automatic winding mechanism was put in place this week, ending the need for a head for heights, there was just time for intrepid, although slightly nervous Yarmouth Mercury reporter Laura Bagshaw to climb the stairs to the clock tower.

Emulating the role of many Town Hall porters Laura scaled the many-hundred vertical steps to the top to capture history in the making.

Complete with hard-hat and high-visibility jacket she set out on the upward journey to the clock tower. “Climbing up those steps was petrifying,” said Laura, “and coming down was even worse. I really wouldn't envy climbing those steps weekly,” added Laura, with her feet firmly back on the ground.

Although not one for heights Laura is no stranger to higher ground at the Town Hall having scaled the roof earlier in the year to take a closer look at the repair work along with council officials.

Swiss-trained Norwich clock repairer Simon Michlmayr's automatic mechanism is ending the weekly chore.

The clock parts, together weighing a tonne, were carefully winched to the ground in July and since then up to four craftsmen have been working on their restoration in Mr Michlmayr's workshop.

He said: “All the parts were so dirty we had to carefully clean everything before we could even start work.”

The clock's movement has been completely restored with every bearing polished and reground, its cast iron numerals have been grit-blasted and painted, and its illuminated panels fitted with acrylic instead of glass.

Using a lift installed as part of the scaffolding covering the building, the dials were put back in place on Monday while the movement, alone weighing more than 300kg, was restored to the clock tower on Wednesday .

Mr Michlmayr said it was planned to have the clock working again early in the New Year.

The clock repairs, costing £19,000, have been part of a £2m restoration of the listed town hall due to be completed shortly after Christmas.

The scaffolding that has shrouded the building since the early part of the year has already started to come down.

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