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Council working around the clock to future-proof landmark

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The historic City Hall clock is set to be future-proofed to ensure it maintains the correct time for generations of Novocastrians.

While the timepiece undergoes regular check-ups from City of Newcastle’s (CN) mechanical and electrical services teams, who have identified a range of technical issues, council’s investigating the possibility of an upgrade to keep things ticking along for decades to come.

It’s understood the age of the clock makes repair complex, with specialist advice indicating the mechanism needs to be enhanced to restore accurate timekeeping.

City Hall, which celebrates its 95th anniversary in December, is listed on the NSW Heritage Register.

So, CN has engaged heritage consultants to explore an upgrade that also preserves the clock’s rich heritage.

Council’s director city infrastructure Clint Thomson said the tower was an antique structure that must be “handled with care”

“It’s been a well-loved landmark at the heart of the historic Civic precinct since the building, designed by acclaimed architect Henry White, opened in 1929,” he explained.

“I think anyone who’s appreciated something of this age and importance will appreciate that sometimes the upkeep is complex… and you can’t rush in and fix it overnight.

“Given the state heritage significance of City Hall and its associated clocks and chime, a consultant will advise the most appropriate approach to repair, which will then need to receive approval from the relevant heritage authorities.”

The upgrade will be the latest investment into preserving the landmark building.

CN’s invested $20 million into a large-scale conservation project on City Hall, which was delivered in 2021.

The completion of the exterior restoration works was celebrated with a visit from His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (RETD), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, and Her Excellency Linda Hurley.

Conservation work was undertaken by Stone Mason and Artist Pty Ltd, who were responsible for the City Hall clock tower restoration.

The building is prized for its sandstone façade, three-metre clockfaces and Roman Doric and Ionic columns.

While the appropriate advice is obtained and subsequent permissions are sought from Heritage NSW, the clock will be set to midnight and the chimes turned off.

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