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Union Chapel clock is fixed – just in time for 140th birthday celebrations tonight

PUBLISHED: 11:44 06 December 2017 | UPDATED: 13:36 06 December 2017

A worker fixes the Union Chapel clock in Upper Street. Picture: Annemarie Norton

A worker fixes the Union Chapel clock in Upper Street. Picture: Annemarie Norton

Archant

It’s been a long time coming but the Union Chapel clock has been repaired just in time for the venue’s 140th birthday.

A worker repairing the Union Chapel clock last week. Picture: Union Chapel A worker repairing the Union Chapel clock last week. Picture: Union Chapel

The clock, made by Thwaites and Reeds in 1888 and installed a year later, has been out of action for decades and the arts venue launched a major project to get it fixed.

A leaking case had caused serious rust problems, the dials were damaged, the clock face was in poor condition and the mechanism – from 1952, when it was electrified – had simply stopped working.

To help preserve it, £40,000 was raised for the work after a campaign by the Chapel last year. As well as donations from members of the public, donations came in from Heritage of London Trust, The Drapers’ Company and Friends of Union Chapel.

Last week a contractor was seen putting the finishing touches to the work, with a picture showing him inside the structure.

Union Chapel is celebrating 25 years as a concert venue. Picture: Daniela Sbrisny Union Chapel is celebrating 25 years as a concert venue. Picture: Daniela Sbrisny

The chapel’s business project manager Barbara Basini told the Gazette yesterday (Wed): “We are very pleased with the result and very grateful for the generosity of people and organisations who have supported this project and the chapel.

“The projects involved major reinforcement of the original metal structure supporting the clock case, which was rusted away following years of water penetration, as well as repairs and redecoration of the case and repairs to the mechanism and movement.

“It has been very interesting – using dry ice technique to remove the rust from the metal surfaces – and fun.

“There were some unexpected repairs to be carried out, as it often occurs when dealing with historic buildings. We have had a very collaborative approach with the main contractor, who managed to overcome some very challenging moments.

Union Chapel is celebrating 25 years as a concert venue. Picture: Daniela Sbrisny Union Chapel is celebrating 25 years as a concert venue. Picture: Daniela Sbrisny

“Now we look forward to seeing our clock ticking again for our 140th anniversary celebrations.”

The celebrations are set to be held tonight at 6.06pm – if that sounds oddly specific, it’s because 1806 is the year the first Compton Terrace chapel opened.

Earlier this year the chapel celebrated its 25th anniversary as a gig venue. In that time it has welcomed music giants including Elton John, Bjork, Amy Winehouse, Tori Amos, Adele and U2.

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