A Letter from Nantwich

February 2007

Time for action

IT HAS been the subject of controversy ever since it was installed in 2000 as a symbol of the new Millennium in Nantwich. It clearly was not what the town was expecting.

   Just what do you produce that marks an new era in Man's calendar? Well, something with which you can easily tell the time would be useful. But with its three dials - one each for the hours, minutes and seconds - and the hours, etc, etched on to the outside of the clear casing, the town's new timepiece has a been a talking point if nothing else. Many are the visitors to be seen scratching their heads as they try to make out what the time is.

   But now the clock has been making the news again. Some don't like it and think it should be taken away, and others are not happy that as well as trying to sort out what time the clock is displaying, you currently have to peer through a screen of condensation on the casing (right). There is a thin "mist" on the sides and "blobs" of condensation on the underside of the top.

   It no doubt didn't help that the sealing around the edges of the glass(?) sides seemed to have failed - or was it vandalised? - to the extent that people started pushing coins into the casing along the lines of a wishing well or any other small area of water - such as a fountain or stream - that can be found in public places.

   This was sorted out and the sealant was renewed. But not before moisture had collected inside the casing. Now when we have a warm, sunny day in the winter months condensation forms. One councillor claimed this was a design fault, but it is probably more likely to be the failed sealant letting in damp.

   Whether this can be dealt with now, or we will have to wait for the warmer weather and a good polish to solve the problem, I don't know.

   But the Town Council has come to an arrangement with the designer of the 18,000 timepiece for a twice-a-year visit to adjust the time between Summer Time and GMT and a maintenance visit. The clock doesn't need winding. As it ticks away, a weight descends on the end of a plastic chain on to a device at the foot of the casing, closing a circuit. This causes the mechanism to be wound electronically.

   The original cost was met through Lottery funding.

   If you would like to see the clock next time you are in town, head for The Cocoa Yard between Hospital Street and Pillory Street. (The Museum stands at the Pillory Street end).

lI have always known this area as the Cocoa House Yard, which is more correct because it is the site of a temperance building - The Cocoa House ! - offering the hot beverage as an alternative to alcoholic drinks. 

Picture above: the Millennium clock on a sunny day just after it was installed - a picture I took for the Nantwich Museum website.              


lSPRING/SUMMER NOTE: With the arrival of the warmer weather the case has cleared and the clock can be seen clearly.

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