Time waits for no man, except Mike

Retired clock doctor diagnoses clock tower's woes

JANINE RANKIN
Last updated 12:00 07/08/2014
Clock
GRANT MATTHEW/FAIRFAX NZ
TIME STOPS: The Square Clock Tower stopped on 10:35.

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Time stood still in Palmerston North for several days this week after the hands of The Square's 108-year old clock in the clock tower stopped moving.

The city council depends on retired clock doctor Mike O'Donoghue to find out why, and to get it moving again.

For nearly 30 years, O'Donoghue has been the specialist on the scene, and in 2007, he undertook the major overhaul to reinstate the clock called Kerei Te Panau in its earthquake-strengthened, panel-lit and lantern-topped tower.

Property manager John Brenkley said the council had preferred to deal with O'Donoghue exclusively because of his specialist knowledge of the time piece.

But when the man they still call "Mike Time" was out of town, as he was early this week, the clock was stuck.

"This latest problem has highlighted for us that we maybe need to talk about contingency planning - to have someone else as a backup," Brenkley said.

The Joyce Turret clock from Whitlow in England has been a Palmerston North feature since 1906, when it rang out from the old Post Office building on the corner of The Square and Main St.

Its tower was taken down in 1942 because it was seen as an earthquake risk, and the clock went into storage for 15 years.

It was re-mounted on the Hopwood clocktower in 1957, where it remained until the 2007 overhaul.

Its most recent major breakdown was in 2011, and was blamed on a weta that got stuck in the time mechanism.

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- Manawatu Standard

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