The clock that saw 24 PMs
Parliament’s clock is unlike any that clock-repairer Rowan Pilbrow has ever seen.
The 109-year-old clock was damaged in the June earthquake and is at Pilbrows Watch and Clock Restoration in Taupo for repairs.
Built in London in 1908 and installed at Parliament in 1921, the clock was actually ousted by the Labour party in 1960 and sold to a private owner, Pilbrow said.
‘‘Then the National Party bought it back from that owner 30 years later in 1989. I understand the Speaker of the House was very fond of it,’’ Pilbrow said.
The large ‘‘master clock’’ clock would have powered 13 other ‘‘slave clocks’’ around Parliament, Pilbrow said.
Every 60 seconds, the master clock would have sent a pulse of electricity to the slave clocks that would move their minute hands by one. It stands alone now.
‘‘This clock is really unusual in that most master clocks have to plug into the mains power to get all the slave clocks to run,’’ Pilbrow said
‘‘This clock creates its own electric charge, all by itself, which I’ve never seen before and didn’t know existed, until it arrived.’’
To generate power, a 130kg solid metal weight turns a minutekeeping clock under the main clock face, Pilbrow said.
‘‘When the second-hand gets to twelve, you’ll hear a bang.
‘‘That’s because there’s a gear in there which gets released and turns very quickly. That runs a little dynamo inside the electromagnets, and creates enough electrical charge to drive this clock, as well as all the other clock faces around the building.
‘‘It’ll give one burst of electricity, and that’ll move all the [connected] clocks one minute,’’ he said.
‘‘Some really smart person must have come up with that system, given this clock was built in 1908, before electricity became mainstream.’’
‘‘It’s a very simple system, but the way they’ve done it is ingenious.’’
Every two days, the clock’s 130kg weight reaches the floor and the clock needs to be wound up.
Pilbrow said there were clock makers in Wellington, but they hadn’t managed to fix the clock’s various problems in recent years.
‘‘There’s a bit of research and knowledge involved that you wouldn’t find in a normal clock,’’ he said.
Rowan Pilbrow is fixing the 109-year-old Parliamentary clock this week. Insets: the clock face and the electricity-generating component.