Derby

Leicester Square Swiss glockenspiel restored by Smith of Derby

  • 28 November 2011
  • From the section Derby
Swiss Glockenspiel in Leicester Square
Image caption The Glockenspiel has been redesigned as a free-standing clock

A Derby clockmaker has helped bring a famous Swiss landmark back to London's Leicester Square.

The Swiss Glockenspiel has returned to the capital for the first time since being removed when the Swiss Centre was demolished in 2008.

The redesigned musical clock, featuring 27 bells and 11 moving Swiss figures, was rebuilt by Smith of Derby in collaboration with Swiss artists.

It was officially inaugurated at a Switzerland-themed ceremony.

The 10m (32ft) high glockenspiel was originally gifted to the City of Westminster in 1985 by Switzerland and Liechtenstein as a token of centuries of friendship.

Traditional elements

Image caption The clock was attached to the Swiss Centre from 1985 to 2008

Its return to the square was a condition of planning approval being granted to redevelop the site of the Swiss Centre which the clock used to adorn.

Smith of Derby was asked by developers McAleer and Rushe, based in Northern Ireland, to design and create a new free-standing version which retained a strong Swiss identity.

The clockmaker worked with the glockenspiel's original producer to retune the bells and combine the clock's traditional elements with new wireless technology which allows it to be controlled from Derby.

Swiss artist Adalbert Fassler restored the wood figures and new music has been written by the Royal Academy of Music in Westminster and the University for Music and Art in Berne.

A ceremony to unveil the new glockenspiel featured six alphorn players placed on various rooftops around Leicester Square.

Jim Foster, sales director for Smith of Derby, said it had been a "fascinating project".

"We faced a series of challenges to ensure the glockenspiel met a number of requirements relating to the design, fabrication and installation.

"We collaborated very closely throughout with Swiss experts to ensure we kept a very strong element of 'Swissness' running through the design.

"We are delighted with the result and hope that the glockenspiel can once again become a great attraction in the area."

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