Time For Bicentennial Boost for Historic Timeball Tower

Timeball 1

The historic Deal Timeball Tower is being given a special bicentennial boost to help turn back some of the wear and tear of time – after Dover District Council's Cabinet today agreed to carry out a key £80,000 renovation to refurbish the popular local attraction. 

Until recently, the Grade II listed Deal Timeball Tower was one of only a handful of timeballs worldwide with a functioning mechanism.  However, the mast upon which the timeball moves has become corroded and the mechanism has been put on hold. 

Dover District Council’s Cabinet has now agreed to carry out a £80,000 renovation to the historic Timeball Tower, to refurbish the Timeball mechanism and redecorate the tower externally. Works are due to start before Christmas. 

The building is owned by Dover District Council and is run as a successful and award winning museum and visitor attraction by the Deal Museum Trust and its amazing local volunteers. The Trust has also been fundraising to help with the renovation costs.  The Tower is now closed but is set to reopen next Easter. 

The Timeball Tower was built in 1820 as a semaphore tower with a semaphore mast at the top, used to signal to ships at anchor in the Downs and ships passing through the English Channel. It was also used by the coastguard to pass information along the coast to help suppress smuggling. In 1855, the timeball mechanism was added by the Astronomer Royal, George Airy. The timeball, which is similar to the Greenwich Time Ball, was designed to fall at 1pm precisely, triggered by an electronic signal transmitted along the telegraph lines of the South Eastern Railway Company. 

Jeremy Davies-Webb from the Deal Museum Trust said: “We’re delighted to get this important funding from Dover District Council.  Our thanks go to everyone at DDC as they continue to support the Trust and our hard working and dedicated volunteers.  We’ve also been fundraising ourselves and raised over £5,000 for the renovation. We have high hopes of doubling this amount over the next month.” 

Cllr Oliver Richardson, DDC Cabinet Member for Corporate Property said: “The Timeball Tower is a fantastic historic asset and we are delighted to be able to invest in this renovation. We would also like to say a big thank you to the Deal Museum Trust and all the amazing volunteers who have been working so hard for this successful award winning attraction.” 

For more information, please see the Deal Timeball Tower website, or for more background information, please see the report to DDC Cabinet.

For further information on attractions, things to do, what’s on, places to stay and opportunities to eat & drink in Dover District (White Cliffs Country) please visit the White Cliffs County website at https://www.whitecliffscountry.org.uk/ or see Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.  

Posted on 07 December 2020

For media enquiries, Email: pr@dover.gov.uk