City Hall Clock Tower

Fredericton City Hall Clock Tower

City Hall Clock Tower

When Fredericton was incorporated in 1848, the City Council was granted the authority to construct a City Hall and install a public clock. However, when the City Hall was rebuilt in 1876 after a fire, it did not include a clock.

Upon taking office in 1877, Mayor George Fenety was determined to provide a clock without imposing additional taxes. Although a “Clock Fund” had been established, it was only after Mayor Fenety agreed to donate his salary and the honoraria paid to City Revisors that work on installing the clock could commence. Following consultation with local watchmaker James White, the city purchased a clock from Gillett and Bland clock and bell manufacturers in England. Manufactured under the direction of Sir Edmund Beckett, parts of the clock served as a prototype for London’s iconic Big Ben. The clock arrived in April 1878 and was installed by Thomas Ross. It struck for the first time at noon on May 1, 1878. Successive mayors followed Mayor Fenety’s example, donating their salaries until the clock was fully paid for in 1888.

In 2006, after nearly 130 years of service, the clock needed repair. Research was conducted to identify companies specializing in tower clock restoration, and in January 2008, City Council commissioned the Balzer Family Clock Works of Freeport, Maine, to restore the historic brass and iron clock mechanism. As part of the restoration, the clockworks were relocated from the clock tower to the lobby area outside the Council Chamber. In May 2008, the clock was dismantled and shipped to Freeport for repairs, returning to City Hall in June 2009 after a year of diligent restoration.

City Hall Clock Tower

The City Hall Clock Tower timepiece is weight-driven, using gravity as its power source. The weights slowly descend from the ceiling to the floor, driving the clockworks’ gears as they drop. While the clock weights were once hand-wound every two days, they are now wound by an electric motor. The timepiece is pendulum-regulated, with the pendulum making a complete swing every two seconds, driving the escapement. The escapement allows the clock to keep time, while the clockworks drive shafts that move the clock hands and ring the hour bell.

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