Future of Norwich’s Gurney Clock is still unclear as a home is yet to be found

The Gurney Clock. PicturedL The largest toothed wheel is fitted to the Gurney Clock by Martin Burges

The Gurney Clock. PicturedL The largest toothed wheel is fitted to the Gurney Clock by Martin Burgess. Date: Oct 1980. Picture: EN Library - Credit: Archant

A home has still has not been found for an iconic timepiece which was gifted to Norwich, 40 years after it was commissioned.


Watchmaker Simon Michlmeyer with the gurney clock
Photo: Adrian Judd
Copy:Simon Parkin
For: E

Watchmaker Simon Michlmeyer with the gurney clock Photo: Adrian Judd Copy:Simon Parkin For: EN EDP pics © 2006 (01603) 772434 - Credit: Archant © 2004

The Gurney Clock was commissioned for the city in 1977, to celebrate 200 years of the well-known Gurney's Bank, now Barclays, which had its home on Bank Plain until 2003.

Taking 12 years to make, the timepiece was initially installed in Chapelfield Gardens in 1988, but was moved to Castle Mall in 1998.

But in 2015 - and with that area of the mall undergoing a radical makeover - it was removed to storage. There were no plans to return it to the site and no indications when or where a new home for it could be found.

Now, more than a year later, Norwich City Council who own the clock admitted they were still no closer to resolving the issue.

The empty case where the Gurney Clock stood at the Castle Mall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The empty case where the Gurney Clock stood at the Castle Mall. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015


You may also want to watch:


A city council spokesman said: 'The Gurney Clock is in safe storage while a new home for it is found.

'We have had several approaches from organisations in the city, but substantial funds need to be raised for it to be moved and relocated, and we continue to discuss with partners how that might be done. When the clock is relocated, it will need to be indoors and somewhere it can stay permanently.'

Most Read

One of these approaches came from John Gordon-Saker, chief executive officer of OPEN Norwich, who said he would love to welcome the clock back to its 'spiritual home'.

The concert and conference venue is housed in the old Gurney Bank building in the city centre.

 At last in it's new home, the Gurney Clock is checked for timekeeping by Paul Holmes from GEI Autow

At last in it's new home, the Gurney Clock is checked for timekeeping by Paul Holmes from GEI Autowrappers. - Credit: EDP © 1999

Mr Gordon-Saker previously said: 'We are in the building where the bank was so there is a family connection here and it makes a lot of sense.

'From our point of view it can be housed in a dry, secure and accessible space in our reception area and we would love to have it.'

Mr Gordon-Saker said that David Gurney, who was at the helm of the company during the 200-year celebrations, supported the bid to have the clock brought to OPEN.

History

The clock was made by Martin Burgess, a master clockmaker, and is a replica of a design by John Harrison, the pioneering 18th century horologist known for solving the problem of establishing the longitude of ships at sea.

It took 12 years to build and was commissioned, in 1977, by Barclays Bank to mark the 200th anniversary of the founding, in Norwich, in 1775, of a bank by the Gurney family. The institution later formed part of Barclays.

The clock features a lion mechanism in a golden castle – two of the city's heraldic symbols.

On the hour, bronze balls are taken by the lion and travel down a track to set of scales – a symbol of Barclays –and then on to the castle.

Despite its fine heritage, the clock – based on a device by renowned 18th century clockmaker John Harrison – has had a troubled history.

It was first installed in Chapelfield Gardens in 1988. But because of repeated attacks of vandalism, was boarded up.

Then, in 1998, it was repaired by Michlmayr Clock and Watchmakers and Autowrappers and installed in Castle Mall, protected by a glass cage.

• Where do you think the clock should be housed? Email vote in our poll, or comment with your own suggestions.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter