Saturday, August 27, 2016
I must have been only about 7 or 8 years old when I first saw the tower of Coningsby church. My father pointed through the windscreen as we approached the village, telling me that I had to take a look at this clock: there was something unusual about it. I noticed at once its extra-large size. At about 16 feet across it was easily the biggest clock face I’d seen. But it seemed to be telling the wrong time. It took me a minute to work out that it has just one hand, an hour hand, so half past nine in the photograph above looks at first glance like twelve minutes to four.
With a really big clock face a single hand doesn’t work badly. When you look closely, you can see that the face is marked in quarters of an hour, with a red diamond at each half hour, so with practice you can read the time to within a few minutes. And to make a face like this you don’t need any complicated metalwork or carpentry – it’s just painted on to the stone of the wall: a good sign-writer could do it. The mechanism of the clock must be simpler too – and is apparently 17th century so has stood the test of time. Hats off to the clock-maker…and to the people who climb 35 steps to the winding mechanism every day to wind the clock and keep it going. Time well spent.