The Joule’s Clock was presented by Bass Brewery to Stone in 1987 and kept time for residents for two decades, before going missing in action after being taken down for repairs. Following a long-running campaign by a number of residents and town councillors the clock returned to the High Street in February 2012.
But it stopped working the day afterwards, and has been plagued with problems ever since – and financial challenges could mean time is called on plans to get it started again.
In 2015 Stone Town Council members agreed to spend £900 on a device to allow automatic operation of the clock. The device for the clock’s control box aimed to make sure it ran correctly following power failures of more than 10 seconds by keeping it stopped for 12 hours and restarting it at the correct time.
The clock is once again proving unreliable however, and has not functioned properly for around 18 months. Last year Stone Town Council considered its future and the clerk was asked to contact a supplier to examine the clock and report back on the works required and the potential cost to return the timepiece to working order.
But at a council meeting this month community leaders heard that rising costs could put a financial spanner in the clock works. The town council has seen its energy costs rocket by 257 per cent, meaning it faces saving decisions such as cutting down on bus shelter maintenance to avoid a sharp tax rise for residents.
The repair quote for the clock has been deemed “unaffordable” at this current time for the council, a report said. As a result the council is recommended to take no further action at this point.
But Rob Kenney urged fellow councillors not to call time on the clock’s future. He suggested that cheaper alternative options be sought – and the meeting heard there was nothing to stop work taking place on the clock if funding options later became available.
Councillor Jill Hood said: “We remain a laughing stock- the only clock in the High Street doesn’t work and it beggars belief. There must be something we can do as we can’t let the clock just stay not working; it’s our heritage.”