Satellite technology keeps antique clock in Gainford church ticking over
By David Wibberley - Reporter
FROM the outside one dale church clock looks like any other – but looks can be deceiving.
The 19th century church clock at St Mary’s, in Gainford, is controlled by satellite technology. Up until recently this has meant the clock has been accurate to about 5 seconds.
Alex Johnston who looks after the clock said: “The original clock dates back to 1865 and we still use the original clock workings.” He added: “The weight mechanisms have been automated, we used to hand wind them. Every week it took 168 turns on the hand crank for the chimes and 41 turns for the clock. This is now being replaced by electric motors.”
The pendulum keeps the clock accurate. Every hour, on the hour a GPS receiver in the bell tower receives signals from satellites and is linked to a pendulum regulator.
The pendulum, which is also an original feature, has been updated to incorporate the regulator which alters the pendulum’s centre of gravity. Moving the centre of gravity of the pendulum up or down either slows or speeds the clock, thus keeping the clock accurate.
Recently the clock hasn’t been as accurate as usual. Mr Johnston said; “The weight mechanism on the pendulum seems to have got stuck so the clock is running fast.”
He added: “ I have been in touch with the Cumbria Clock Company who have advised that we should turn the electrics off for 48 hours to see if this fixes the problem.”
In the meantime Mr Johnston has applied his own low-tech solution to the problem: “I have taped a half ounce weight from my kitchen scales onto the pendulum and it seems to have had an effect.”
The bell tower will be open on Saturday, June 22, during Gainford Fun Day for anyone who would like to know more about the clock’s history and workings.