In Del Braddon’s eyes, the city of Rockhampton died the day time stood still.
The iconic clock tower, which is part of the city’s former post office building, marked its last second just after 1:03 a.m. on an October morning in 2018.
Originally built in 1893 to ensure local workers were on time, its cranks were last reassembled by volunteer Zac Garven four days earlier.
Three years later, the hands of the clock have not moved.
Housed in a heritage listed building, the iconic watch is one of the few clock towers in Australia that has yet to be hand wound.
After campaigning for local, state and federal politicians to rekindle the “heartbeat of the city,” Ms Braddon, 81, continues to champion the historic icon that is owned by a private company overseas.
Ms Braddon, who worked in sales at a local newspaper in her youth, said the clock played an important role in Rockhampton.
“It was like losing a friend,” said Ms Braddon, who grew up in a house near the post office.
“I’ve lived here since I was a kid and it’s such an iconic thing.
“In the early years, people relied on it. When cyclones hit the area, they waved a red flag to say something was wrong during a disaster.
Words to energize the city center
In an effort to keep time flowing again, Ms Braddon wrote to Rockhampton Regional Council earlier this year.
Mayor Tony Williams responded by writing that he would like to see the clock work, but did not consider it possible given it was owned by a private company and due to the occupational health and safety risks involved. .
“It would be wonderful to see that great old clock strike again, however, unfortunately it is not something the council is seeking to undertake at the present time.”
Rockhampton State Member Barry O’Rourke said he was eager to see the clock working again, but did not see how government funds could be allocated to the project.
Keeping time for over a century
The clock, made in Croydon, UK by Cillet & Johnson in 1893, was maintained by the Gomersall family – first by Ernest then his nephew Brian in the 1970s before his son Dan took over and spends over 24 years going back. the clock every four days.
Unique clock winder Zac Garven lived in the CBD of Rockhampton and every four days he climbed a ladder to the roof, opened the manhole and moved cautiously on the roof to the tower of the ‘clock.
He then wound up two cranks moving weights weighing a few hundred kilograms on a pulley system for half an hour.
The building ceased to function as the city’s main post office in May 1997, and in 2018 it was purchased by its current owners for $ 4.115 million.
In mid-2018, Mr. Garven left the city center and informed the real estate agency managing the building that he would no longer be able to perform the task.
They suggested that he contact the Lions Club to see if there was an interested volunteer.
When he didn’t have that chance, he posted an ad on Facebook looking for his replacement.
A family contacted him eager to take on the duties, but due to insurance and training costs, they were unable to.
Brisbane-based real estate agency Burgess Rawson looks after the property.
Agent Flavio Del Re said the agency has been contacted on several occasions regarding the clock and its operation.
He did not answer further questions about the future of the clock.
Automate the clock
Sydney-based watch expert Andrew Markerink said very few hand-wound clocks are still working in Australia.
He says those that continue to operate are mostly found in buildings that have become museums or tourist attractions and are wound up weekly by trained paid staff.
Mr Markerink, who will appear on The Repair Shop TV show next year, has a solution to bring the Rockhampton Post Office clock into the modern era.
He says an upgrade worth around $ 30,000 could install an automatic winding system and connect to satellite power to ensure the clock always stays on time.
Ms. Bradden supports the idea.
“Absolutely, it’s a wonderful idea,” Ms. Bradden said, “that alleviates the problem of occupational health and safety.”