Delighted shoppers and passers-by stopped to take photographs when one of Wisbech’s treasures returned to its home of 150 years.
The historic Dann’s Clock was reinstalled to its original position in Bridge Street, above William H Brown estate agency, which was previously Smith’s tobacconists and once the premises of watch and clock maker James Dann, who originally installed it in 1864.
The clock’s removal by the shop’s previous owners more than two years ago created a wave of public anger and demands for its return.
The clock disappeared from the town and many feared it was lost forever, until a clock dealer in Lewes, East Sussex, purchased it at a Bonhams’ auction in London.
Researching its history, the dealer discovered the public outrage at its removal and immediately contacted Richard Barnwell, a trustee of Wisbech Society and member of the town’s Rotary Club, and offered to sell the clock back at cost price.
Wisbech Society purchased the clock, by now in poor condition, and it was taken to a specialist in South Leicestershire for careful restoration, before a penultimate move to Mr Barnwell’s Clifford Cross auction rooms for safe storage.
Wisbech Society and Rotary Club agreed to jointly meet the purchase and restoration costs, while Wisbech Town Council met the legal costs of drafting a licence agreement with William H Brown for the clock’s reinstallation. It was agreed that its future protection could best be met by gifting it to the town, in the care of Wisbech Town Council, which will meet insurance and maintenance costs.
The clock was returned to its original home on Wednesday by Turner Contracting, which donated its time and resoures, including a tower scaffold, to ensure the treasure was lifted safely into place.
Wisbech Society chairman Ray Johnson said: “It was a bleak day for Wisbech when the clock was removed from its home of the last 150 years. The town had suffered another blow to its pride and heritage, but by good luck and the expenditure of £5,000, the clock is now home.
“Now, with the return of Dann’s Clock, the announcement that Wisbech is in line to receive £2 million in Heritage Lottery Fund money to restore the High Street, the ongoing restoration of the old Belfast building and properties in Hill Street, and newly-completed restoration works to properties on South Brink, the town’s fortunes are finally looking up.”
Wisbech Society and the Rotary Club have now opened an appeal to raise funds to help recover the cost of purchasing and restoring Dann’s Clock. Anyone wanting to show their support for its return can donate money by contacting David Crouch, Wisbech Society treasurer, via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or Ken Green, Rotary Club treasurer, at New Parkwood Lodge, Terrington St John, PE14 7RX.
Cheques should be made payable to either ‘The Wisbech Society’ or ‘Rotary Club of Wisbech’. All donors will receive full recognition and acknowledgment.