Clock face restored at historic Tanworth church

St Mary Magdalene Church wardens Phil Terry and Pat Saunders underneath the two new clock fascias

Tanworth’s historic St Mary Magdalene Church looks better than ever following the restoration of its beautiful clock face.

The church itself has a special place in the hearts of music, sport and television fans, being the last resting place of singer songwriter Nick Drake and world motorcycle champion Mike Hailwood MBE.

It has also been a star on the small screen, appearing regularly on the soap Crossroads.

Recently the church’s prominent clock face was re-installed following an expert restoration by the Cumbria Clock Company.

For Tanworth resident Bibby Barrett, the clock restoration is a special moment coming more than sixty years since her late husband Tom’s company originally repainted and re-gilded it.

Interested to see the work taking place, Bibby met workmen at the church this week and was allowed to hold its restored hour hand before it was put back in place.

Bibby, 81, said: “It was my husband’s company A Barrett and Sons that did the restoration in 1958 and a man called John Taylor who actually did the work. At the time it cost £26, six shillings and six pence plus £25 for the scaffolding, I don’t know what this latest restoration cost, but I suspect it was a bit more.

“The clock face really needed this work, it looks absolutely fantastic now with the gold leaf. Sadly my husband Tom has passed away, but I think he would have been thrilled to see the work that’s been done, it looks great.

“It’s so nice to see it back, the village is a bit lost without the church clock.”

St Mary Magdalene’s is still central to events each year celebrating Nick Drake’s life, while Tanworth also been the destination of an annual memorial motorcycle run in honour of Mike Hailwood.

Church treasurer Phil Littleford said: “For a relatively small village, people are often surprised by the enormity of St Mary Magdalene’s, it’s sometimes described as a mini cathedral and it’s got an abundance of stained glass windows that you don’t always see.

“The clock has not been there for most of the year and it was really interesting to see them put it back in, they didn’t use scaffolding, but abseiled from the top on ropes. The clock looks great, it’s a central feature of the church and sadly it wasn’t looking its best before the restoration because of the attention it had received from pigeons.

“I’m involved in the yearly Nick Drake Gathering, as it’s come to be known, and one the Saturday night a selection of mature Nick Drake musicians are always chosen to perform in the church, it normally attracts the thick end of 200 people. If you look in the visitors book you can see that a good number of people still regularly come to pay their respects to Nick Drake.”

Phil added that the restoration of the clock face had cost in the region of £6,000 and both the Friends of St Mary Magdalene’s Church and Tanworth Parish Council had contributed to the cost.