A FRESH START FOR TRURO CITY'S ICONIC CLOCK TOWER
Updated: Sep 12
The clock tower atop of The Hall for Cornwall and Truro City’s municipal building is to undergo a complete rebuild, thanks to Fox Construction Solutions.
Built in 1858, this Grade II listed building originally housed the municipal buildings for Truro City Council. In 1914, a large fire ravaged through the halls and gutted much of the building, including the partial destruction of the clock tower. The whole building was rebuilt, to some extent. The north face of the clock tower, facing Boscawen Street, was the only face that remained in its original granite form. The rest of the walls were reconstructed using steel and in-situ concrete, rendered to give the appearance of granite.
Over the intervening years, the clock tower, being exposed to the weather, has gradually degraded, and the steel work used to reinforce the concrete has become severely corroded. As a result, there was no alternative for the tower other than complete removal and rebuilding.
A new challenge
A real one-off challenge, Fox Construction Solutions were delighted to be asked to get involved with the delivery of this project. Following extensive surveys and design development, works started on site in June last year. Extensive enabling work had to be undertaken, which included the shrink wrapping of the clock tower structure. It also meant removing the existing scaffolding, which was already in place from the completed renovations of the Hall for Cornwall. And because this is a high-traffic area in the centre of Truro, a solid hoarding needed to be erected in order to protect the public from site works.
Construction is underway
To undertake these works at up to 27 metres above street level, a crane had to be erected on-site, capable of lifting the heaviest component of the re-build – up to 4 tonnes! The clock tower structure starts at 15 metres above street level and is 8 metres high itself. Add to that a 4 metre weathervane on top, and the crane is essential to gaining access throughout the re-build, as is a freshly erected scaffolding that traverses the entire structure. All of this had to be in place before we could start the dismantling process.
Dismantling itself started in October 2022 and progressed without issue, with the careful removal of the weathervane, clock faces and the internal clock mechanism. These have been stored safely, at Cumbria Clocks, until the time comes to refurbish them and put them back in place. Behind the scenes at this time, the replacement precast concrete mouldings were being manufactured ready for reinstallation.
A fresh start for the clock tower
In December 2022, we reached a large project milestone in this rebuild. The four original bells were removed from the belfry and sent to Dorset, for full restoration works. As the original granite façade has been dismantled, each granite block has been recorded, labelled and stored safely. When the time comes, once the pre-cast concrete elements have been installed, these will be ready to be put back in their original place.
Fox Construction is happy to report that over the past few weeks, re-construction work commenced and has reached the roof level of the City Hall. Our work now focuses on making the building below watertight again. This must be done before we remove the shrink wrap coverings, ready for the installation of the precast columns, clock faces and architraves. These works are scheduled to be undertaken during March and April.
An exciting future for Truro
Project completion is currently scheduled for the middle of June this year. With The Hall for Cornwall building, and its clock tower above, being such an important part of Truro’s history and landscape, we are proud to be working on a project that holds so much importance not only for the area, but for our team, as well.
Work is ongoing on the clock tower renovations, as is work on a number of other projects across the county. Taking on this reconstruction is another demonstration of the broad range of skills that the Fox Construction team have at their disposal. The clock tower has been an interesting and positive challenge. It has gone from strength to strength, and we look forward to reflecting on it all when it reaches its completion.