TOWN CLOCK


Probably the most historic site in the village of New London would be the town clock which is mounted in the belfry of the Methodist Church. There are very few like it left in the United States today. In April of 1879 a two mill levy was passd in order to purchase, install and maintain a clock in the bell tower of the new Methodist Church.

In August of 1879 there was a special meeting by the menbers of council to decide on the kind and cost of a clock to be purchased. Council finally decided to purchase a clock from the Howard Clock Co. of Boston, MA. A contract was signed with the Howard Co. for the purchase and installation of a Howard Tower Clock at a cost of $750.00. The Clock arrived on Nov. 13th, 1879 and on Nov. 19th, 1879 an agent of the Howard Co. came to place the clock in the tower. The great pendulum of the clock was set in motion on Tuesday evening Dec. 2nd, 1879.

In its original state the dials were gilded and in all a fine piece of workmanship which attracted everyone. As a timekeeper it was very dependable varying only a few seconds per month.

The bell was manufactured by the Buckeye Bell Foundry of Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1879 and weighs in at 2005 lbs and is operated by a hammer mechanism attached to the clock. It can also be rung by hand from a rope located below the belfry and clock. The four faced clock is operated by a large wheel and cable mechanism build on a table and powered by weights. Two boxes containing about 50 lbs of rock are attached to the bottom of the cables and while one is going up the other is going down. The clock mechanism is in a table on the floor below the bell. The four clock faces are located above the bell floor and are operated by a system of gears that come from the clock table two floors below. The large pendulum of the clock is said to weigh 500 lbs.

The clock is wound by hand by attaching a crank to the cable shafts and this must be done every eight days. I understand that it takes about a half hour to wind the clock and this has been done by many local citizens through the years. Bill Bryson, Hubert Snyder, Bill Heidrich and George Eastman are just a few of the many who have taken care of the clock. It still has most of the original gears and mechanism in the clock though I understand that the cables have been replaced. This is remarkable when you consider that 121 years have passsed since this machinery was installed. The old clock still keeps fairly good time as always. I understand that there are only four or five of these clocks still left in the country so New London has a real piece of history and this is the main reason that the clock has never been electrified.

Many names have been written on the walls where the clock table is located by local citizens through the years. A Mr. Charles Wells put his name up in 1879 and he started quite a trend as I understand there are over fifty names on the wall now. Most are in pencil and therefore some are very hard to read. George Eastman still takes care of the old clock as he has done for twenty years now and George said he is good for another twenty years. When you hear the old clock sound out the hour you can thank him for all the time he has given the clock. We would certainly miss it if it suddenly became silent! It is a part of our life!

V.K. Neel from N.L. Record articles and a talk by George Eastman




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