History & heritage  |  6 Jul 2020

The restoration of the New Brighton Clock Tower is complete and the repaired mechanism is telling the time once again.

The heritage clock tower, which is in front of the New Brighton Library building, suffered damage caused by the Canterbury earthquakes and decades of exposure to the seaside environment.

Work to repair the structure began in July last year but the project was delayed by additional work being needed and the recent Level 4 lockdown.

The restoration, carried out by local contractor Cook Brothers Construction Ltd for the Christchurch City Council, involved a significant upgrade of the structural integrity of the building including replacing two cracked, internal concrete floors and the inclusion of additional steel reinforcing as well as a corrosion prevention treatment for the concrete surfaces.

All of the work has boosted the building’s longevity and performance.

The final step was the repair of the clock’s mechanism.

It has just been reinstalled, along with the clock’s hands, and it is all operational.

Christchurch City Council Head of Parks Andrew Rutledge says the contractors’ efforts have succeeded in turning back time.

“The tower is looking its best with fresh paint work in the original 1930s colour scheme. I think locals and visitors will see the iconic structure with fresh eyes after this very careful and thorough restoration,” he says.

“We do want to let people know that the mechanism for the clock is complex so there might be some initial, minor issues with its timekeeping accuracy. This will be monitored and some fine tuning might be necessary.”

Cook Brothers Construction also has the job of restoring the landmark Scarborough Clock Tower, which is expected to be fully operational by Friday, 17 July.

The tower, near Scarborough Park, also dates back to the 1930s. It suffered considerable structural damage in the quakes. Its clock faces and mechanism had to be removed and restored.

All of the four faces went through a careful process of restoration, with the key emphasis being on the retention of their original appearance.

Both of the clock towers were fenced and wrapped in protective plastic in 2018 while structural investigations were carried out. These detailed assessments revealed significant damage to the concrete and structural steel caused by the earthquakes and by leaks and environmental damage.

Scaffolding was removed from the Scarborough and New Brighton clock towers just before the country went into lockdown.