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Watton ticking along nicely after historic clock tower’s extensive refurbishment works are completed

The clock is ticking again in Watton town centre, after being extensively renovated. Picture: Ian Burt

The clock is ticking again in Watton town centre, after being extensively renovated. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2017

It has been a prominent part of a town’s landscape for more than 300 years but recently an historic clock tower has been missing a tick and a tock.

The clock is ticking again in Watton town centre, after being extensively renovated. Pictured is Cllr Daniel Fishlock. Picture: Ian Burt The clock is ticking again in Watton town centre, after being extensively renovated. Pictured is Cllr Daniel Fishlock. Picture: Ian Burt

When the clock’s mechanism stopped working on the Watton clock tower it was taken out to be fixed.

However it was discovered the inside of the building on the town’s high street was in a poor state, suffering from damp among other things, and needed to be renovated before the clock could be put back.

The clock is ticking again in Watton town centre, after being extensively renovated. Picture: Ian Burt The clock is ticking again in Watton town centre, after being extensively renovated. Picture: Ian Burt

The extensive refurbishment works on the Grade-II listed 17th century building has cost the town council £28,000 and includes work on the cupola, roof covering, tower and electrics.

Watton mayor Beryl Bunning said the clock tower “means a lot” to the community.

The clock is ticking again in Watton town centre, after being extensively renovated. Picture: Ian Burt The clock is ticking again in Watton town centre, after being extensively renovated. Picture: Ian Burt

“It is a big part of the town and to have the clock tower working again is fantastic for Watton,” she said.

“People have waited for this day. There have been so many questions about when the clock would work again.”

The clock is ticking again in Watton town centre, after being extensively renovated. Picture: Ian Burt The clock is ticking again in Watton town centre, after being extensively renovated. Picture: Ian Burt

Built in 1679 by Watton mercer Christopher Hey, it is believed to have been constructed to house a bell to warn of fire.

This is believed to be in response to a large fire which destroyed much of the town centre in 1674. It has been stated the blaze ruined 60 houses, barns and stables, and cost more than £9,000 in damages.

The clock is ticking again in Watton town centre, after being extensively renovated. Pictured is Cllr Daniel Fishlock. Picture: Ian Burt The clock is ticking again in Watton town centre, after being extensively renovated. Pictured is Cllr Daniel Fishlock. Picture: Ian Burt

The tower was commonly referred to as Ting Tang and Mr Hey sold it to the town on April 12 1680.

An account from 1851 said the bell was used to give notice of service and town meetings.

Watton town centre viewed from the top of the clock tower. Picture: Ian Burt Watton town centre viewed from the top of the clock tower. Picture: Ian Burt

The lower part of the building was also used as the town lock-up and had been used until recently as the tourist information centre and as Santa’s grotto at Christmas.

The building was rendered in Portland Cement at around the same time as the present clock was installed in 1879 - and is likely to have replaced a lime render.

The clock is ticking again in Watton town centre, after being extensively renovated. Picture: Ian Burt The clock is ticking again in Watton town centre, after being extensively renovated. Picture: Ian Burt

Mrs Bunning added: “It has taken a long time to do but we had to do things through the proper channels with accredited and skilled craftsmen.

“It is an important and historical part of the town and it is nice to have the clock back ticking.”

The clock is ticking again in Watton town centre, after being extensively renovated. Picture: Ian Burt The clock is ticking again in Watton town centre, after being extensively renovated. Picture: Ian Burt

Watton town centre viewed from the top of the clock tower. Picture: Ian Burt Watton town centre viewed from the top of the clock tower. Picture: Ian Burt

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