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Town clock is ticking again

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By Abbey Morton
Annan and Eskdale
Town clock is ticking again

A PUBLIC clock is ticking once again - after being out of action for nine months.

The clock at Annan Old Parish Church came to a stop in March, around the same time as the first coronavirus lockdown, and was unable to be repaired due to the pandemic.

But the timepiece is back in working order and Rev Dave Whiteman said: “Since this was the beginning of lockdown it was impossible to contact anyone to have the clock repaired.

“It was not until lockdown was over that we were able to contact the clock repairer.”

Rev Whiteman also shared some history of the town clock and said: “In the late 1700s clocks and pocket watches were not commonplace and so a town clock played a huge part in the life of the community.

“Public clocks were used to regulate the opening times of businesses, shift patterns, schools and public transport.

“Circa 1800 the Provost and Bailies of Annan decided that the town needed a public clock and so they took up a public collection and a clock was purchased by public subscription.

“It was agreed that the newly built church tower at the Old church would be the ideal place to host the clock and so in 1806 the new clock and bell were installed in the church tower.

“For the next 211 years the Provost and Bailies, followed by the town council and then eventually Dumfries and Galloway Council, took responsibility for maintaining the public clock on a regular basis.”

However, Rev Whiteman commented that, unbeknown to the church, the local authority ceased responsibility for maintenance in 2017.

He said: “An unelected official of the council made the decision, in a cost cutting exercise, to cease maintaining Annan town clock.

“Regrettably this decision was made without reference to the church nor the local elected representatives. There was no consultation or discussion, furthermore he did not even have the courtesy to inform the church nor local elected representatives of his decision.

“We were only made aware of this decision when the clock stopped in March.”

However, Annan Old Parish Church say they are happy to take over the responsibility and Rev Whiteman added: “This has been paid for by a kind local benefactor.

“We wish the council well and we hope that the minuscule amount of money that they saved by this decision will go some way towards alleviating the wheeled bin debacle and the roads fiasco.

“As they say, ‘every little helps.’”

Dumfries and Galloway Council were contacted for comment.

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