Pagoda clock has a heart transplant

Pagoda clock with Chris Culnan ANL-150331-110200001
Pagoda clock with Chris Culnan ANL-150331-110200001

Staff at Anglesey Abbey had an extra clock to wind forward on Sunday following the return of its celebrated Pagoda clock following three years of cleaning and conservation.

The clock dates back to the early 1770s and its case alone has more than 600 individual parts all of which had to be disassembled, catalogued and cleaned.

And to safeguard the clock’s future a ground breaking decision was made to replace the original movement with an electronic drive and digital recording of the chimes allowing the clock to function without concern for mechanical wear. “It had a heart transplant, “ said Chris Calnan, conservation advisor for the National Trust “and we believe it to be the first clock to have been conserved in this way.”

Standing more than three feet tall, the clock is named because it is shaped like a Chinese pagoda. When it strike there is both a musical and visual display with musical chimes sounding and the jewelled flowers on its four tiers spinning with their petals opening up.

While it was being cleaned the jewelled panels around the base were found to have small strips of paper wedged inside to prevent movement. These were strips torn from Chinese newsprint dating from the latter half of the 19th century, suggesting that the Anglesey clock may have an illustrious past and could have once been part of a huge collection amassed by the Emperor of China. How and when it returned to the west and was acquired by Lord Fairhaven is unknown.