Stroud’s town clock is keeping time again, thanks to the Town Council and a 72-year-old volunteer.
Sims Clock, also known as the Four Clocks, in Russell Street, has not worked for several years.
Marcus Jelfs, 72, approached the Town Council with an offer of voluntary help to get the time-piece ticking again.
The qualified precision engineer, who spent much of his life working in the aircraft and radar industry, couldn’t wait to climb the tower and work out what was wrong.
“My wife, Rosemary, and I often come to Stroud to go shopping or have a cup of coffee and we always thought it was a shame it wasn’t working. It looked terrible with its hands stuck at 12 o’clock week in, week out,” he says.
“Now it’s running accurately within one minute a week – that’s not about my skill, it’s the skill of someone who made it in 1921.”
Mr Jelfs’ roots in precision engineering started when he was a young lad who entertained himself by taking things apart, working out how they worked, and putting them back together again.
“When I was a boy my father was a farmer in a little village in the wilds of Worcestershire and I had a very long walk home from school. I used to go through people’s dustbins to get old clocks that had been thrown away and take them home to get them going again.”
At 16 he was given an apprenticeship at the Royal Radar Establishment in Malvern and his love of engineering continues to this day.
Mr Jelfs, who also keeps the clock in his home town of Upton St Leonards working, says the Sims clock made by JB Joyce of Whitchurch, Shropshire, has had alterations in the past including being changed from having to be wound daily to a seven-day mechanism.
It used to have a big handle that made it hard work to wind-up so Mr Jelfs manufactured a new one using tools from his vintage car restoration work. Now it has gone from taking 15 minutes to wind up to two. He’s also made it easier to adjust.
He winds the clock every week but hopes to make another alteration by electrifying the winding so it would just need occasional re-adjusting.
“It’s a good quality clock and it’s a landmark in that part of Stroud so it’s very satisfying to see it working again,” he said. “It’s such good workmanship – it just needed a little tinker.”
The clock, which was finished in 1921, is named after William Thomas Sims, who left a bequest of £1000 in 1917 to build a town clock.