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Marine Parade icon restored

clock 1 edited

The countdown to the Napier War Memorial Official Rededication and Opening has begun.

Ticking away in the background to the official event on 6 August will be the Napier Floral Clock.

Taupō-based third generation horologist (clock and watch repairer) Rowan Pilbrow has been in charge of restoring the clock.

He will spend two days on site, ensuring the mechanical parts are operating as they should. Its sweeping hands – 3.4 metres and 2.72 metres long – will pass above brightly coloured flowers which give the clock its name.

This is the first clock that Pilbrows Watchmakers has worked on that’s buried in the ground, says Rowan.  

“It was a unique challenge, it needed quite a lot of work to bring it up to a good working condition again. Enjoyable though, a challenge is always exciting and it’s come out really good.”

People working for the company need a head for heights.

They carried out much needed maintenance on the Taradale Clock Tower several years ago, and tower clocks are often what their specialist skills are required for. Their next big job will be on Cambridge’s town clock, which is located several stories above the town’s main road in its own tower.

The interesting thing about these types of clocks, says Rowan, is the history. “You mention to people about the Napier Floral Clock and everyone knows about it, all over the country. Doing something special like that is really cool.”

The clock was gifted to Napier by the Hurst family in 1955, two years before the original Napier War Memorial Hall opened.

The family was inspired by floral clocks they had seen on their travels to California and England. Arthur Hurst, a renowned Napier photographer, was a member of the Thirty Thousand Club which had focused on beautifying Marine Parade since the 1920s.

It originally faced the road and was moved in 1995 to make way for the facility’s forecourt. The clock’s new home is several metres south, towards the Soundshell.

The company also works on much smaller, less public items. Some of them are family heirlooms and of great sentimental value, he says.

“The thing I really like is when you get something going that hasn’t been going for ages.

You’re working on something that could be 200 or 300 years old and some old family clocks, the families have never seen it go. It’s like The Repair Shop, you do the big reveal and people start crying.”

Restoration men: Peter Jones, left, and Rowan Pilbrow from Pilbrows Watchmakers, during a break re-installing the Napier Floral Clock.

7 July 2023

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