Taking Back Time
Conserving the original Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy clock and faces, bringing them back into use for the local community.

The Clock

Chris McKay, Author of the Turret Clock Keeper's Handbook, says that our clock is "quite unique and deserves restoration". 

The clock was designed and installed in 1933 by Benjamin Lewis Vulliamy, clock maker to the Crown and elder brother to the church's architect, Lewis Vulliamy. The double act may have been unusual, as they had been engaged in a long running dispute over the will of their father and previous head of the family business, Benjamin Vulliamy.

The clock installation consists of an hour striking turret clock movement, with a countwheel controlled striking train and a pinwheel escapement fitted to the going train.

The two clock faces are the original slate dials, mounted to the tower when installed with the movement. Mechanically, the clock is in very good condition, except for surface corrosion to both iron and brass work, so restoration and re-instatement should be straightforward.

The Project

The first action is to dismantle the mechanism and bring it down into the church so people can see it in its current condition. The dial motions works (gearing that drives the clock) were removed when the clock became electric, as were the bell hammer & cranks (which control the chimes), but both were retained and will be brought down at the same time. The slate faces, minus the hands, are currently in storage within the church. We will make a full record of this process for display and invited the public to an open day to view the 'before' state of the clock.

The pieces will then be taken away for restoration. Following this, the clock will be placed once more on display before being returned to the tower. We will also install automatic winding, drawing electricity from a new mains supply but with battery back up, and will consult with the local community about re-instating (limited) use of the chimes.

The box, which currently contains the movement, has solid wooden panels and is firmly fixed in place within the tower, so we'll create a new box frame of exactly the same size, but with Perspex panels to allow great viewing on display, while protecting the mechanism.

When the clock is re-instated within the tower, we will conserve and replace the wooden panels of its housing. If circumstances allow we will install a webcam (already donated) to allow enthusiasts to view the working mechanism through out website.

Meanwhile, the  slate clock faces will be repaired and conserved so that, once again, the church can show the time to the local community on both sides of Westwood Hill. And while all this is going on the upper levels o the tower will receive urgent attention. The clock will be returned to a structure that is safe, with improved access and newly installed electricity for lighting and power sockets. The automatic winding system will be run from mains electricity, but with battery back up.

Our clock restoration project forms part of a larger package of works to restore the tower itself. In pursuit of this, and having already received match funding, we are applying to HLF Our Heritage for the restoration of the upper levels and parapets of the tower. To support this display we will offer the following events: 

  • Open days with art competition and interpretive display
  • Taking Back Time school project and resource pack
  • Tower and clock guide
  • Opening celebratory event
  • And we have approached a virtual experience company to support our project using 3D re-construction technology and interpretation

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Call the Vicar

020 8778 5290

or  Contact Us 

through this page

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St. Bartholomew's Restoration Appeal

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Benjamin Vulliamy

Heritage & History

Remembering WW1

Art & Architecture

Local History

Family history

Southwark Cathedral

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External Links

Sydenham Society

Crystal Palace Foundation

Frightful Accident at the Crystal Palace

National Gallery

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