IF YOUR clock ceases to tell you the correct time you take it to a clock mender, writes Ann Tilbury. Somewhat more difficult if it is a long-case grandfather clock or, in my case, a somewhat smaller grandmother clock. Whatever – you take it to the mender.

If, as is the case of St Mary’s Church in Horsell, the faulty timepiece is in the tower, then the clock mender must come to the clock.

Thus it was that a 70-year-old expert from Gillett & Johnston, who has worked on Big Ben and numerous tower clocks around the world, spent a Wednesday in May dismantling and removing the main moving parts to their Edenbridge workshops for repair. 

Barry, from Gillett & Johnston, knows the problems, and how to overcome them: a block and tackle exercise with ash beams to lift sections from the cast-iron frame and ropes to lift them out. A collection of old pennies and ha’pennies were found: they were traditionally used to adjust the weights to correct for any time discrepancy.

When might we expect to be able to check the correct time with a glance to the tower? That is a time which even experts cannot tell.

Look at what happened with Big Ben after some four years and £80million worth of refurbishments: it stopped. The hands on all four faces gave up for 30 minutes last month – just a week before work started on St Mary’s clock.

There was a possibility that dust from nearby building works may have caused Big Ben’s problem. During that expensive refurbishment, some Second World War damage was discovered, even a wartime bomb, according to some reports. 

Nothing like that has been discovered at St Mary’s but what problems might be uncovered? It won’t necessarily go like clockwork.

To donate towards the repairs, visit www.justgiving.com and search for St Mary’s Clock Appeal.