Bolton Parish Church clock to get £15,000 facelift after hand got stuck
ON a building where Bolton steeplejack Fred Dibnah made a name for himself a £15,000 project is well underway.
The project at Bolton Parish Church will see the restoration of the clock's 12ft dial and its inner workings.
It is part of ongoing repairs to keep the building looking its best, and is being carried out by Mike Tomlinson, aged 46, who like Fred, has spent more than 25 year scaling the heady heights — to repair clocks up and down the land.
Mr Tomlinson, who works for clock specialists Smith of Derby, said: “I understand the last time this dial was done it was done by Fred who used a plank of wood, a rope and a Capstan Full Strength cigarette in his mouth.
These days Mr Tomlinson abseils his way down with an assistant to perch over the Victorian dial and carry out the necessary renovations.
“I suppose the scariest moment for me was once working on another church when I went into free fall after my ropes dropped into a church gulley,” he said.
“I only fell five feet but so long as we follow safety procedures each time there is little chance of me coming to any harm.”
Like Fred, Mr Tomlinson has no problems about hanging around 187ft above the Bolton, as this week he embarks on making templates for some rusty dial brackets, brushes the face in readiness to apply grey primer, and depending on weather, painting the black gloss to the cast iron dial, which has been in situ since the church was first opened in 1871.
If all goes according to plan 330 sheets of the delicate gold leaf will be studiously applied to the Roman numeral next week.
The six foot hands will then be replaced with work set to be complete by October 11.
Church warden Cllr John Walsh said: “This is part of our ongoing cycle of repairs to the church and its clock.
"We had initially planned to repair the six foot minute hand, which had sheared off and was stuck at six on the clock face, but after an inspection it was decided to restore the clock face and workings.
“This is a landmark building and as such we wanted it looking at it looking at its best.”
Mr Tomlinson added: “There's a lot of pride involved in this industry and to be able, when it is finished, to stand back and say I did that is something that is immensely satisfying.”
Comments are closed on this article.