Appeal launched for historic Wisbech timepiece

Wisbech Society and Wisbech Rotary joining together to try and raise �5000 to get the Dann clock back at William H Brown.'left to right David Crouch, Pearl Davies and Ray Johnson ANL-150402-155903009
Wisbech Society and Wisbech Rotary joining together to try and raise �5000 to get the Dann clock back at William H Brown.'left to right David Crouch, Pearl Davies and Ray Johnson ANL-150402-155903009

An appeal has been launched to help pay towards the costs of reinstating a clock which has served the townspeople of Wisbech for over 150 years to its original position.

Wisbech Society and the Rotary Club of Wisbech have jointly launched the appeal to help recover the costs of buying, restoring and returning the historic Dann’s Clock to the town centre site, over the shop front of what is now William H Brown.

Known locally as the Bridge Street Clock or Smith’s clock, the timepiece became a feature of everyday life on Bridge Street after James Dann placed it on his business premises in 1864.

Mr Dann, a well-known Wisbech clockmaker and watch repairer, also built the clock in St Peter and St Paul church, in 1886, and the carillion – a set of bells played from a ‘piano roll’ – in the Wisbech Institute, for Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee in 1887.

Generations of Wisbech residents had set their own timepieces to the Bridge Street Clock’s illuminated display, and there was much dismay when it was removed and offered for sale at Bonhams’ auction rooms in London, by the building’s previous owners.

Wisbech Society Chairman, Ray Johnson, said: “The Society was horrified to hear of the clock’s removal after 150 years in Bridge Street. Though of no great monetary value, its significance to the town was enormous. The Society takes a dim view of heritage vandalism.”

The Rotary Club and Wisbech Society bought the clock when its new owner realised its historic importance to the town and he offered to return it to its proper home, at auction cost.

Unfortunately, the clock’s external drum was severely damaged by its removal and transport to London, the glass in both faces was badly cracked and the internal mechanism required extensive cleaning and restoration by a professional clock repairer.

Restoration is now complete and the clock back in Wisbech, awaiting its return to the spot it occupied for so many years.

The Rotary Club and Wisbech Society realised that the clock’s future preservation could only be secured if it became a public possession and therefore donated it to the town and its people. It will be held in the care of Wisbech Town Council, which has generously agreed to insure and

maintain it.

The final cost of purchase, restoration and installation is going to be around £5,000, much greater than originally anticipated. Wisbech Society and the Rotary Club are contributing significantly to the bill, but are now also appealing for public donations.

Rotary’s president, Pearl Davies, said: “My predecessor Jon Martin helped start the process to restore the clock and I am keen to see its completion. I hope the people of Wisbech will help us achieve this.”

Contributions to the appeal for the re-instatement of Dann’s clock, by cash or cheque (Gift Aid declarations appreciated where possible) should

be sent to: Mr David Crouch, Treasurer, Wisbech Society, 1 The Chase, Leverington Road, Wisbech, PE13 1RX. email: treasurer@wisbech-society.co.uk

Or: Mr Ken Green, Treasurer, Rotary Club of Wisbech, New Parkwood Lodge, Terrington St John, PE14 7RX

Cheques should be made payable to either, “The Wisbech Society” or “Rotary Club of Wisbech”.