The Tower Clock at the Southampton Town Hall
stands in the centre of town - the Tower Clock of the Southampton Town
Hall. How many realize though that the tower also stands for the young
soldiers of Southampton and the Saugeen First Nation who went to fight
in World War I and that, at the very top, is a rare time peace.
man knows and he knows it intimately ... Walter Mackowski of Vincent
Jewelers in Southampton.
Intricate Work -- Swiss Trained
Like his father before him, Mackowski is a watchmaker extraordinaire.
As a young student, he won a scholarship to study in Neuchatel,
Switzerland, renowned since the 1700s for its watch and clock making
industry. There, Mackowski studied the fine art of watch and clock
making until returning to Canada to apprentice with his father Vincent.
When his father died, the younger Mackowski took over the family
business that he and his wife still run today.
Designed and built by Bell Foundry and Clockmakers,
Gillett and Johnston Ltd. in Croydon England in 1922, the clock and bell
had been raised into the tower by hoisting them upward through trap door
openings using block and tackle.
Given that the clock was installed a half century before Marckowski was asked to take a look at it, there were of course, no directions nor blueprints as to how the mechanism worked.
The Master Clock in the Art Gallery
The Dedication Plaque -- One Man Remembers
He knew that the
grandfather clock in the Town Hall governed the tower clock ... but the
rest he had to learn on his own. His Swiss training enabled him to even
make his own parts for the intricate workings. "Instead of the clock
driving the pendulum the way a normal clock does, the pendulum actually
drives the clock," Mackowski explains.
Cogged Wheel Runs Four Faces
That mechanism is connected to a wheel which turns four other cogged wheels, each rotating a shaft. In turn, each of the shafts is connected to the hands of one of the four clock faces on each side of the tower. "It really is a marvel, when you think of how ingenious the design is," says Mackowski.
One of the Four Clock Faces
To reach the clock, even today, is no small feat. There are four ladders to climb, each opening on to a landing. Half-way up, is the exquisitely curved bell that chimes on the hour, beginning at 9:00 in the morning until 9:00 at night, and then finally, the fourth and tallest ladder.
The Last Ladder to the Mechanism
This last ladder has rungs instead of treads and they are spaced far apart making it difficult for a first-time climber.
Looking downward, the climber looks directly down
through the opening to the previous landing below. The brickwork and
beams inside the tower are just as they were over 100 years ago. The
windows and openings have long since been sealed to prevent bird
nesting, but the body of a small bat gives evidence that life has found
its way in to the tower.
Making Sure the Adjustments are Correct
For over 30 years, the Southampton master watch and clockmaker, has taken time from his business to climb the ladders and tend the Tower Clock, as it ticks away the hours in salute to those brave soldiers who heeded the call to war.