As we prepare for the clocks to go back an hour on 31 October, the historic Deal Timeball Tower is taking a key step forward - with the reinstallation of the timeball mast.
A new mast has been made by local company Fabweld Metalworks, in Deal, and has been installed today as part of an £80,000 renovation of this popular maritime landmark. The timeball mechanism is being renovated by clock experts Gillett and Johnston.
The Timeball Tower was built in 1820 with a semaphore mast at the top used to signal to ships. 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. The time signal allowed ships in the area to check the accuracy of their chronometers, essential for accurate navigation.
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 had become corroded and the mechanism needed maintenance. Dover District Council’s Cabinet agreed to carry out a £80,000 renovation to the historic Timeball Tower, to refurbish the timeball mechanisms, and carry out external works.
A range of repairs and renovations have been completed, including replacing the main roof and works to the rear courtyard, and further works will be carried out this year.
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 currently closed but is set to reopen in the new year.
Cllr Oliver Richardson, DDC Cabinet Member for Corporate Property said: “The Timeball Tower is a fantastic historic asset, and we are delighted to invest in this renovation. We would also say a big thank you to the Deal Museum Trust and all the amazing volunteers who work so hard for this successful award-winning attraction.”
Posted on 11 October 2021