Ticking off another anniversary as Tettenhall clock tower approaches 110th year

Time to tick off a big anniversary – the Tettenhall timepiece clocks up 110 years this month.

Flashback to the presentation of the clock to Tettenhall in June 1911
Flashback to the presentation of the clock to Tettenhall in June 1911

Or to give it its proper name, the Tettenhall Coronation Memorial Clock Tower, which was unveiled on June 22, 1911, amid great celebrations to mark the coronation of King George V.

Today it remains a much-loved landmark, if not always to be relied on. For instance, back in 2014 it had not been moved forward an hour to mark summer time, with the upshot that some children were allegedly late for school – it must have been a good excuse, anyway – and one local councillor was late for a match at Molineux (Wolves 2, Peterborough 0, since you asked).

Previously pesky pigeons trying to set up home in it had interfered with its workings so it no longer chimed. The chiming mechanism worked from an electronic box.

And for over 20 years up to 2004 it was silent, with no chimes at all. Then the city council approved a £3,000 grant to the Anne Swindley coronation clock maintenance fund, allowing the chimes to be reinstated as part of a restoration.

The clock tower remains a much-loved local landmark

Erected at Upper Green facing the four roads at the top of the rock, the clock was, according to the contemporary 1911 report in the Express & Star, "generously presented by Mr and Mrs Edward Swindley."

The ceremony attracted several thousand people, with Territorial soldiers resplendent in scarlet uniforms among those looking on.

With his wife at his side, Mr Swindley said they had great pleasure in asking the council, on behalf of the parishioners, to accept the clock.

"Mr Samuel Bayliss (he was the council chairman) expressed the pleasure that it gave him, on behalf of the parishioners, to accept from Mr and Mrs Swindley their useful and permanent memorial tower.

"Mrs Swindley then started the clock, which immediately struck twelve, and went on with its work."

According to research by local historian Richard Pursehouse the tower was designed by F T Beck of Darlington Street, built by Mr Cave of Wolverhampton, and supplied by John Smith & Sons of Derby. It is 21 feet high and five feet wide, and built of Darley Dale stone on a 12 feet square platform of Yorkshire stone.

On one side of the tower is carved "I labour here with all my might to tell the hours by day and night." On the other three sides are the inscriptions "For every hour that I owe there is a hope," "For every hour that strikes there is a joy,” "For every hour that passes there is a record."

The Swindleys were local good eggs, and according to one tale had the clock built because Mrs Swindley became tired of her gardeners walking in and out of the kitchen to find what time it was.

The replica clock, pictured here in 2014

They went on to have a replica of the clock built in the garden of their house in Stockwell Road nearby, which became known as the Clock House.

But time doesn't stand still, and the property was controversially demolished as recently as 2017, although developers said they would spare the replica clock in the garden.

Mrs Swindley left £500 in her will to ensure the 1911 clock was maintained and kept in good working order.

The family also left land to the village in the 1930s, including the Stockwell Farm duck pond which was converted into Tettenhall’s paddling pool.

Top Stories

More from the Express & Star

UK & International News