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St Albans Clock Tower opens for the 2016 season

Posted on: 18th April 2016 By: Caroline Howkins

Caroline Howkins of the St Albans Clock Tower Volunteer Team (aka the 'Clockateers'!) tells us more about what’s new for 2016 at St Albans Clock Tower:

"The Clock Tower was officially opened by the Deputy Mayor, Cllr. Gill Clarke, on Good Friday, 25th March 2016 when she had her photo taken with the replica, Victorian ceremonial key by the Clock Tower entrance door. She also launched the new display, housed on the first floor, detailing the restoration of the tower completed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in 1866 (more on this below).

The Clock Tower is now open for visitors every weekend from Easter to the end of September, 10.30 to 4.45, staffed by volunteers from the Civic Society and the St Albans and Hertfordshire Architectural and Archaeological Society. It is well worth a visit to experience the medieval rooms and spiral staircase as well as the magnificent views from the roof.

The Clock Tower will be welcoming a number of Brownie packs over the summer term as they aim to complete their “St Albans Challenge” Badge by visiting the Clock Tower and climbing the 93 steps to the top.

Over the Literary Festival Weekend of 9th/10th July, the Clock Tower hopes to run a story telling session suitable for adults. The Tower will also be open over the Heritage Opens Days from Thursday 8th September to Sunday 11th September.

As our final weekend of the season, 24th/25th September, coincides with the beginning of the Food and Drink Festival we will be arranging a food/drink themed event."

'150th Anniversary of the Restoration of the Clock Tower' summer display

"From the 25th March until the 25th September 2016 there is a fascinating display on the 1st Floor of the Clock Tower detailing the 1866 restoration of the Clock Tower.

Built in 1405, the Clock Tower has had many alterations and repairs over its 611-year life and even survived an attempt to demolish it in the early 18th century. But the most comprehensive and professional renovation that has been documented is the major restoration in 1866 when the Tower was completely overhauled.George Gilbert Scott was the architect responsible for the restoration plans and designs for the Clock Tower. He was a most prolific architect believed to have been responsible for designing, altering or restoring over eight hundred buildings including the hotel at St Pancras Station, the Albert Memorial and the restoration designs for St Albans Abbey.

The restoration was extensive and included all eight windows being replaced, the facing flint bring repointed, all the corner quoin edging being renewed with Bath stone, building a parapet on the top of the Clock Tower along with a turret surmounted by a weathervane, a replacement clock being installed and new railing being placed around the base. The display provides a chronological framework of this extensive restoration.
Although Scott had done a very comprehensive and professional job and the Clock Tower was now in a safer and more functional state, it had, according to some lost some of its charm.   During the official opening of the Clock Tower, on Good Friday, Deputy Mayor, Cllr Gill Clark stopped to look at the 150th Anniversary Display and to view a selection of St Alban photos through a stereoscope, which is available for visitors to use whilst the display is on show over the summer."