Northern Ireland

Fivemiletown clock restored to former glory

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Media captionTime took its toll on the clock but it has now been given a new lease of life

The clock in Fivemiletown has been a distinctive landmark on the petty sessions courthouse building in the County Tyrone town's main street since 1903.

It was commissioned to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra the previous year.

After years of constant use, the effects of the weather and a car bomb that exploded in 1972, gear wheels became rusted, the frame distorted and the hands finally stopped turning.

It was only when the clock was covered in purple masonry paint that local people decided that it was time to give the clock a new lease of life.

Beverley Weir from Fivemiletown Chamber of Commerce has been involved in the project to restore the clock.

"Maybe, in some ways because we took it for granted, we saw it every day, we suddenly looked at it properly and said somebody's painted the clock purple - oops.

"At that point then, quite a number of local people said this is the time now when we really must get the clock restored, it shouldn't be left like that."

The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a grant that also enabled the local community to find out more about those who had made it.

The copper casing was made by local craftsmen, members of the art metal industry that thrived in Fivemiletown from 1892 until the outbreak of the World War One.

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Image caption The clock has been telling the time in Fivemiletown for more than 100 years

Their skills in decorating items such as bowls, trays and fireplace guards won awards in international exhibitions and world fairs.

Queen Victoria, the Princess of Wales and the Duke of York all bought pieces of Fivemiletown metalwork at the 1895 exhibition in the Albert Hall.

Now their talents can be appreciated once again, with the detail of the Royal coat of arms on the clock restored to its former glory.

Florence Brunt has helped to compile a booklet on the history of the clock and the art metal craft industry.

"It's been an eye-opener for many of the people of the town because they didn't realise that this copper industry was there up until the First World War.

"Sadly, it's not done any longer in the town but maybe it might encourage somebody to think of doing something like that in the future."

The purple paint has now gone, the copper gleaming once again, and the clock is once more telling the time to those who pass through the Clogher valley.

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