A beautiful Victorian clock at the Brampton Museum has been restored to its former glory thanks to the generosity of a community stalwart and several businesses.
Within hours of a Facebook post highlighting the kindness of Freeman of the Borough Jim Worgan – a long-time museum volunteer and friend who kick-started a special fund to repair the historic clock by presenting his monthly £5 donations in one sum after the lockdowns lifted – four businesses came forward to kindly offer the remaining £1,600 required.
The magnificent piece of engineering, donated to the town in 1890 by local chemist Edward Turner and made by Newcastle clock-maker Frederick Skerrett, originally sat in the tower of the municipal hall in the Ironmarket and now takes pride of place in the museum’s new café area, which opens in the spring, after the Council agreed to give it a home in 2018.
Although the clock is in reasonable condition, some of the 130-year-old parts within the mechanism were worn and it kept losing time before stopping altogether late last year.
Donations from Andy’s Roofing in Knutton, Wolstanton-based Pattens Plumbing & Heating, security company Secur-80 and The Vine Inn in Silverdale – in addition to Jim’s initial contribution of £110 – funded the specialist repairs by Time Assured in Mansfield.
Edward, who officially opened the municipal hall, donated the clock to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee. He started it at midday on Tuesday, 19 August 1890. The timepiece was adapted by Newcastle Rotary Club in 1973 to mark the 800th anniversary of the royal charter which gave Newcastle-under-Lyme its borough status.
Jim Worgan said: “The clock is one of the last tangible artefacts from the municipal hall. It’s an incredible piece of equipment so I was very keen for the 22 monthly donations I’d saved to go towards repairing it. I just can’t believe that businesses donated the rest of the money so quickly, especially as they’ve struggled during the pandemic. It’s really fantastic. The museum is such a wonderful place; I can’t wait to get back to volunteering.”
Kelly Nicklin, who co-ordinated the donations from businesses, added: “When I saw the post about Jim on Facebook, I thought it would be nice to help. Within two hours, we’d got all of the money together. We love taking our families to the museum to learn about local history, and also enjoy using the children’s facilities at Brampton Park, so we’re pleased to help fund the repair of the historic clock. We’re looking forward to seeing it.”
Cllr. Jill Waring, Cabinet member for leisure, culture and heritage, said: “I would like to sincerely thank Jim, who has put £5 in the museum’s donation box every month for years, and the four businesses for their helping hand in preserving this historical gem. The museum was really happy to give the clock a new home, but there isn’t a budget for repairs, so we’re very grateful. It’s in perfect working order, operating better than it has in years. Everyone loves the clock; it’s such a talking point. Not only does it still provide a functional purpose after more than a century, it’s a really striking structure. I’m thrilled that it’s going to take a more prominent position in the lovely café, created as part of the museum’s exciting redevelopment to encourage diverse audiences and create more enjoyable experiences. Admission to our wonderful facility is always free, with free parking available.
“As a matter of coincidence, which is perfect timing, the museum has recently received a portrait of Edward Turner and this is going to be placed next to the clock. He seemed quite a colourful character.”
The museum’s next fundraising mission is to improve the wildlife pond area at Brampton Park – which is overlooked by the new café and outdoor decking – with plants and bird feeders, and for children’s nature activities.