December, 2021


York’s iconic Terry’s Clock Tower clock will soon be marking time once again.

The city landmark – once the timekeeper for thousands of factory workers – has not worked since chocolate production on the site ended in 2005.

The PJ Livesey Group, which converted the original factory building into apartments, is now converting the tower and commissioned experts from Smith of Derby to bring the clock back into working order. The restored clock faces etched with the words ‘Terry’s York’ were re-installed in a complex operation three years ago and now the intricate working mechanism is ready to get the giant hands moving once again.

Sales and Complex Projects manager for Smith of Derby, Martin Butchers said: “This has been an amazing project that has required not just all our skills but some deft detective work by the team.

“Terry’s is a rare Waiting Train Clock, made by Gents of Leicester, which is powered, not by battery, but by an electrical impulse from a master clock. It was a visionary concept, well ahead of its time, but by the 1940s had already started to fall out of use.

“When we came to remove the clock we were absolutely heart-broken to discover that the acual mechanism was not there. Despite extensive inquiries and a great deal of effort by many, many people it was never found so we set about finding original parts to recreate it.”

This search involved speaking to horologists all over the country, chasing tip-offs and poring over auction house catalogues and eventually the team sourced the majority of the parts needed.

Martin said: “The workings of the clock are made up of the central waiting train and master clock, the trickle charger, low voltage warning bell and batteries together with connecting rods and joints.

“Under the approved planning permission we had to find replacement parts from the same era and by the same maker – Gents of Leicester – to effectively replace, as far as possible, with like for like. We have achieved this with the exception of the connecting rods and a few joints so essentially, the working system will be pretty much as original.

“It has been quite a challenge but the excitement when one of us managed to track down a part was huge and the day we put everything back together was quite momentous for everyone involved.

“The mechanism is now all complete and being safely stored waiting for the day it can be installed and the clock can once again mark time for York.”

Conversion work on the tower is well underway to create 21 unique homes within the Grade II listed building and sales are due to launch through Savills in the New Year with the project complete by late summer.

PJ Livesey Managing Director Georgina Lynch said: “Terry’s is so much part of the history of York and the clock tower such a landmark that it will be a significant moment when the clock is working once again.

“It is huge tribute to the team from Smith of Derby that we have reached this point and to our teams who are now working on the building to create some truly lovely homes.

“Without this new use there was a danger of the buildings falling into decay so it will be lovely to see the tower lived in and loved just like the neighbouring Factory Building.”

PJ Livesey has ensured the space behind the clock face is accessible by lift and discussions about potential limited public access are now taking place with local heritage groups.

Read about the clock tower clock faces being restored here

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