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New look Victoria Clock Tower ready for unveiling

MEDIA RELEASE
Monday 9 February 2004

New look Victoria Clock Tower ready for unveiling

The newly restored Victoria Clock Tower will be officially unveiled on Monday 16 February at its Victoria St site.

Since June last year, this important city landmark has been hidden under protective cladding as it has undergone major restoration, commissioned by the Parks, Gardens and Waterways Committee of the Christchurch City Council.

Committee chair, Councillor Carole Anderton said it had been exciting to see the tower as it had it been slowly revealed over the last few weeks.

“ I am delighted to see that this special feature of Christchurch has been restored to its former glory. The clock tower has been refurbished to such a high standard that it should be at least another 50 years before it requires significant attention.”

The Council allocated $285,000 towards upgrading the clock tower, which is classified Category B by the NZ Historic Places Trust and Group 2 (of national or regional importance) in the Proposed City Plan. Work has included structural strengthening, stonemasonry repairs, refurbishment of the clock, reroofing and enhancement of the tower’s architectural details.

The Victoria Clock Tower is an important city landmark with links to the early days of European settlement in Canterbury.

The best available evidence suggests that the upper part of the tower was originally designed to be a feature of the Durham St frontage of architect Benjamin Mountfort’s design for the Provincial Council buildings. But when it arrived from England in 1861, it was found to be too heavy for the building.

It was instead erected on the north stone tower of the Provincial Council buildings. The clock was however there for only a short time before it was removed. It sat idle for some time before being re-erected on a stone base at the corner of High St and Manchester St to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s reign.

Increasing traffic in this area meant that in 1930 it was relocated again, complete with its stone base, to its present site in Victoria St.

Some restoration was carried out in 1978 by a group of local companies as a community project. But in 2000 a Conservation Report noted that the structure was due for another substantial overhaul.

Christchurch City Council architectural designer Malcolm Kitt said, “ further studies confirmed that the structure was in urgent need of strengthening. Before we could start restoring the exterior, steel bracing had to be installed in the middle section of the tower and tensioned steel rods were drilled down through the stonework.”

A number of local artisans, including clockmaker Malcolm Lyall, have worked on the clock and tower, alongside NZ Civil and Construction Ltd who have done the structural strengthening.

Christchurch company Maison Rouge has been responsible for enhancement of much of the heritage detailing including devising and applying a colour scheme based on that of similar Victorian English clocks. This has included gilding of the clock’s impressive ironwork.

Mr Kitt said Goldfields Stone who were charged with repairing the tower’s stonemasonry were fortunate to be able to source stone from the Mt Somers quarry that supplied the original stone

Media Invitation

Reporters and photographers are invited to attend the official unveiling of the Victoria Clock Tower at 3pm on Monday 16 February.

ENDS

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