The Chamberlain Clock being removed by Smith of Derby. Photo © Pat Rodwell

The Chamberlain Memorial Clock was built at the beginning of the 20th century to celebrate Joseph Chamberlain’s visit to South Africa in 1902 – 1903. The clock still stands tall today, and its legacy continues as a landmark and meeting place for many locals and visitors. In order for future generations to be able to enjoy the beauty of the Chamberlain Clock, it was decided that the clock needed to be restored and renovated. It was last refurbished in 1990, but since then the paintwork had faded and the clock was no longer telling the time. Therefore, in August 2020, the Chamberlain Clock was removed for restoration work by the skilled clock makers Smith of Derby.

Smith of Derby is a business with a long tradition since 1856, when it was founded by John Smith. The company has since been in operation under five generations of the Smith family, flourishing during the Industrial Revolution building its fine reputation on making tower clocks for the railway industry.

Since that time, we have been involved in many exciting projects and now our clocks can be found on buildings and in public places all around the world

– Smith of Derby

The company has a lot of experience as clockmakers and has encountered many exciting projects, stating that their most unusual project was making a new rotating globe for the top of the Coliseum Theatre in London’s West End. However, they emphasize that the most rewarding work is  the conservation and restoration of old public time pieces, preserving them for future generations to enjoy. This is reflected in their motivation to refurbish the Chamberlain Clock.

It is an honour for us to be restoring such a magnificent piece, one which we have known and maintained for decades. We are particularly excited about delivering it back to the local community following its restoration. For us, detail is key in a restoration and we follow the rules and guidelines of conservation. So far, we have removed all the paint and corrosion to enable us to build up the new paint layers inside and out.

– Smith of Derby

Considering the current situation and disruption of COVID-19, the company says that it certainly delayed the start of the restoration, but that they have measures in place in the workshop to ensure that the work can take place safely and it is now well underway. We can all rest assured that the Chamberlain Clock is in good hands and that it will be properly redone even with the disruption of the pandemic.

It has always been a treasured local landmark and a real symbol of the Jewellery Quarter. We feel in its restored state this structure with its fine time piece will be admired by many for centuries to come

– Smith of Derby

Find out more

The Chamberlain Clock in the Jewellery Quarter is undergoing extensive restoration and repair works which start in August 2020 and will be completed in early 2021.