Historic clock gets historic upgrade

103-year-old downtown tower clock gets new lease on life, new voice

  • Dec. 11, 2015 12:00 p.m.
The Cranbrook Post office was torn down in 1971

The Cranbrook Post office was torn down in 1971

Barry Coulter

A significant Cranbrook landmark is undergoing a significant upgrade. Soon, the streets of downtown will be soothed by the sound of the Westminster chimes — or other appropriate music — once an hour, on the hour.

As well, the clock in the clock tower in Spirit Square is now keeping deadly accurate time, all the time.

The Cranbrook Rotary Club has funded a major renovation to the famous clock — likely its biggest upgrade in its 100-plus year history. Gord Delamont, of Delamont Jeweler, is the go-to clocksmith, a spent a few days earlier this week installing a new clock mechanism.

“I used to have to go up once a week to wind it,” he said. “Now it’s going to be electrically operated.”

The new clock mechanism, shipped up from Illinois, is an all-enclosed unit in a sealed steel box. Four five-foot spindals emerge from the box to connect to each of the clock’s four faces.

The old clock, now 102 years old, was originally part of the Cranbrook Post Office on the corner of 10th Avenue South and Baker Street. When that venerable building was torn down in 1971, the clock was saved, and later incorporated into the clock tower, which was build in the 1980s.

But this year, the old clock mechanism finally gave up the ghost.

“The old clock was wearing out,” Delamont said. “It wouldn’t run anymore, especially in winter.”

Pictured: The Cranbrook tower clock has been upgraded with a  new clock mechanism and musical system

In addition to the new clock mechanism, a new musical system is in the process of being installed. Carla Nelson, with the Cranbrook Rotary Club, which has fundraised and paid for the project, said special speakers are on their way, which when installed will chime melodies on the hour. System can be set to several famous chime melodies — the most popular and famous of these being the “Westminster Chimes.” The chimes should be audible across downtown.

Nelson said its hoped the musical system will be in place by Christmas, and the clock can be set to play Christmas carols.

“We’re also planning to install LED lighting, to backlight the four clock faces,” Nelson said. “And we would like to incorporate the Rotary Wheel in behind them too, to show that it’s been a Rotary project.”

Nelson said the Club has paid over $10,000 for the new mechanisms.

“Gord’s the only one who could do it,” she said. “He had to get parts from here, there and everywhere, so good on him.”