Time to get Southend's clocks fixed?

Bill Banton and Councillor Graham Longley at the Prittlewell Square clock

Bill Banton and Councillor Graham Longley at the Prittlewell Square clock

First published in South Essex by

A BROKEN timepiece may be correct twice a day...but a retired mayoral chauffeur is on a crusade to get Southend’s working around the clock.

Bill Banton, 82, who was the Mayor of Southend’s mace bearer and chauffeur between 1982 and 1996, has made it his mission to restore the historic clocks around the town that time seemingly forgot.

The clocks include those in Prittlewell Square, at the Cliffs Pavilion, in the High Street and even the millennium clock, designed by a schoolgirl to mark the millennium.

The millennium clock stood outside the Victoria shopping centre until 2011, when it was put into storage because it had not worked for some time. Mr Banton’s campaign has already met with some success.

High Street shop Yours is making preparations to restore the clock above the store, which kept time when the space was occupied by jeweller and philanthropist RA Jones.

The clock has been in place for more than a century, but fell into disrepair after RA Jones’s jewellery store closed in the Seventies.

Mr Banton, of Eastern Close, Southend, said: “I found a picture of what it used to look like in a book and it was square with a big brass dome at the top and that was back when Lipton’s used to be their next door neighbour, where McDonald’s is now.

“The manager at Yours is looking for as much information as she can get on the clock to restore it, but, of course, the main problem with it is it doesn’t work.”

Mr Banton would also like to see a cosmetic change to the Prittlewell Square clock, which was unveiled in the mid to late 19th century when Clifftown was built.

He would like it returned to its white-painted trim, which he says was its original colour, but is nowpainted black.

He has a backer in Lib Dem councillor Graham Longley who, before he became deputy leader of the council and tourism spokesman earlier this year, was a vocal opponent of the millennium clock’s mothballing.

Mr Longley said: “I’m quite happy to support Bill as Southend has a number of famous clocks linked heavily to the town’s history and it’s important for the council to retain them.

“What interested me an awful lot was the millennium clock and, if it was to be among the clocks around town working again, there would be no objection from me.”

Mr Banton has stated his aim is to have the clock rehoused in the Victoria Shopping Centre, but Mr Longley said previous attempts to negotiate this had failed.

Comments (5)

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8:17am Mon 1 Sep 14

GrumpyofLeigh says...

I am more than happy for Council (ie my) funds to be used on keeping these up to scratch and particularly the Jones clock after all he has done for the town - he must be spinning in his grave (and Jones the Jeweller, what a gem that shop was)
I am more than happy for Council (ie my) funds to be used on keeping these up to scratch and particularly the Jones clock after all he has done for the town - he must be spinning in his grave (and Jones the Jeweller, what a gem that shop was) GrumpyofLeigh
  • Score: 14

8:27am Mon 1 Sep 14

Robin Reliant says...

These are glorious old clocks and should be preserved, unlike that monstrosity tacky millennium thing at top end of our high street which might have seemed a good idea at the time, these have stood the test of time and don't look out of place today unlike that monstrosity tacky...ohh i already said that.
These are glorious old clocks and should be preserved, unlike that monstrosity tacky millennium thing at top end of our high street which might have seemed a good idea at the time, these have stood the test of time and don't look out of place today unlike that monstrosity tacky...ohh i already said that. Robin Reliant
  • Score: 10

11:45pm Mon 1 Sep 14

Southchurch75 says...

Every time I see Graham Longley, all I can think is he reminds me of the old guy Waldorf (one of the old guys from the Muppets!) and I cannot take him seriously!
Does he need reminding that he was Mayor of Southend when the Millennium clock was installed and that his administration was generally considered a disaster for the town? Now he's back in power (God help us all!) he's intent on getting publicity at every opportunity possible! The Millenium clock is a monstrosity.; it has never worked properly; nobody wants it...keeping it is akin to flogging a dead horse ( or Graham Longley!). I'm amazed he hasn't yet enlisted the support of David A Mess to have it preserved in perpetuity as part of the bid to become the "alternative " City of Culture!
If we are to spend the very limited taxpayers funds that are available, then let's at least direct those funds towards the preservation of what is left of this town's heritage that has been systematically destroyed by Various Administrations over the years.
Every time I see Graham Longley, all I can think is he reminds me of the old guy Waldorf (one of the old guys from the Muppets!) and I cannot take him seriously! Does he need reminding that he was Mayor of Southend when the Millennium clock was installed and that his administration was generally considered a disaster for the town? Now he's back in power (God help us all!) he's intent on getting publicity at every opportunity possible! The Millenium clock is a monstrosity.; it has never worked properly; nobody wants it...keeping it is akin to flogging a dead horse ( or Graham Longley!). I'm amazed he hasn't yet enlisted the support of David A Mess to have it preserved in perpetuity as part of the bid to become the "alternative " City of Culture! If we are to spend the very limited taxpayers funds that are available, then let's at least direct those funds towards the preservation of what is left of this town's heritage that has been systematically destroyed by Various Administrations over the years. Southchurch75
  • Score: 2

7:48am Tue 2 Sep 14

CHRISTMAS CAROL says...

Wonderful news and not before TIME
Wonderful news and not before TIME CHRISTMAS CAROL
  • Score: 1

10:15pm Tue 2 Sep 14

Joe Clark says...

There was an article on the Southend Timeline website about these clocks and others few months ago it's an interesting read.
There was an article on the Southend Timeline website about these clocks and others few months ago it's an interesting read. Joe Clark
  • Score: -1

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