Tredegar Town Clock
Built in 1858, the iron clock and tower is a symbolic reminder the the town's existence and growth was due to the production of iron. The site chosen was then called Market Square, now 'The Circle', and the clock has become a landmark of which local residents are justly proud. The manager of the rapidly expanding Tredegar Ironworks in 1857 was Mr R. P. Davis who lived at Bedwellty House, and his wife took a keen interest in the affairs of the town. The idea of a Town Clock was originally hers and her husband promised a donation of £400 if she would undertake to raise money by some effort in the town. A committee was formed and preparations to hold a bazaar were made. Sadly, Mrs Davis died before this was held, but with the money raised, plus a further donation by Mr Davis, the target of £1,000 needed was reached.
James Watson was the engineer responsible for the overall design and supervised the erection of the main structure. It was cast in iron at the works of Charles Jordan, Iron Founder of Newport. The Tredegar Company loaned chains and derricks to lift the heavy structure and dozens of men were sent from the iron works to help with the tricky operation, which took sixteen weeks. Foundation works began in the autumn of 1858, but the tower and clock together were not completed until June the following year.
The clock tower is 72 feet high and the pillar is wholly composed of cast iron. The plinth is inscribed on its four aspects. One reads
'Presented to the town of Tredegar from the proceeds of a bazaar promoted by the late Mrs R. P. Davis'.
Opposite is the name and description of the Iron Founder and his crest, while the other aspects have the Royal Arms of England and effigy of Wellington, England's Hero. The clock was designed by Mr J. B. Joyce of Shropshire and the four translucent dials were originally illuminated by gas.
Over the years the Town Clock has been the meeting place for the town's celebrations, some of the most joyous and colourful being those held at the end of the second World War. The end of the black-out was a signal to illuminate the tower with hundreds of lamps. The Welsh flag flew from its apex and singing and dancing continued for many days and nights.
In its long history, the clock has kept time with remarkable accuracy and can be said to be a fine example of iron casting and a monument to the industry of the town and its people. In 1992 the Town Council completed a phased programme of conservation of the Town Clock which includes: stainless steel tie rods for stability, interior galvanised steel platforms with connecting ladders, innovations to and a complete overhaul of the clock mechanism by the original clockmakers, the replacement of the cupola roof louvres and clock face decorative grilles and, finally its repainting.
In 1996, Tredegar Town Council undertook a further programme of conservation which included the replacement of seriously corroded bolts and plates. Corrosion of a circular plate at the top of the clock tower necessitated its replacement and the complete removal of the clock chamber. It was removed by crane on 21st March 1996 and shipped to Derbyshire where it underwent anti-corrosive treatment, replacement and repainting; at the same time J. B. Joyce, the original clockmakers, overhauled the mechanism. The clock chamber was returned on 1st May 1996 and after reassembly J. B. Joyce reglazed and regilded the clock's dial frames. Repainting in the now distinct gold and claret completed the refurbishment and to celebrate its completion a balloon release took place on 14th September and the Town Clock was opened to general public for the first time. This event coincided with European Heritage Days and is repeated annually attracting many interested adults and children who wish to climb the inside of the Clock tower.
Each year Tredegar Town Council opens the Town Clock as part of the Cadw Open Doors events. This gives anybody the opportunity to climb the rung steel ladders inside up to the top of the Clock - with the only limitations being suitable footwear must be worn and the climber must be of general good health. On completion, all participants receive a certificate. Below is a list of those who have taken on this challenge.