‘It’s like Big Ben’: 40 years on, the Eastgate Centre clock is still going strong

When a familiar face clocked off unexpectedly from the Eastgate Centre in Inverness recently there was concern it could lead to a longer-term absence.

But a visit from a specialist led to a timely return to work in the lead up to Christmas.

Now it is hoped the shopping centre’s landmark clock, which has been enjoyed by shoppers for 40 years, will keep ticking along for decades to come.

Time stood still in Eastgate

Last month the Noah’s Ark clock went silent with its hands stuck at noon (or midnight) due to a fault.

Eastgate Centre bosses had to call in Suffolk-based Haward Horological who installed the famous attraction when the centre was built in 1983.

The firm arrived on scene a week later and worked, well, around the clock, to carry out repairs, including replacing broken micro switches and a motor.

It was the first time in 15 years the clock had stopped completely and a local fix wasn’t posible.

The clock has been a popular Inverness attraction for 40 years. Image Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Rod Callender, the centre’s operations manager, said: “The company moved things around to come here and fix he clock because they knew how important it is.

“Sometimes it needs a horologist to fix it, just like the big church clocks or Big Ben.

“It needs to have work done by the right people at the right time.

“We also knew how important it was to people in Inverness who grew up with it, many of whom take their own kids to see it now.”

Popular meeting place

The clock is a popular gathering place for parents and children as it bursts into life on the hour.

Objects and figures become animated and the chimes play animal-themed tunes.

The repertoire includes the Ugly Duckling, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, Run Rabbit Run, Baa Baa Black Sheep and Little Donkey.

At midday, the clock is at its most lively with an extended display.

Engineer Paul Murray checks the inside of the famous clock. Image Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

So does its age and specialist nature of repairs mean time is running out for the attraction?

Apparently not is the good news.

“It’s definitely got a long-term future. That’s the intention as long as I’m here”, says Rod.

“It’s a complex piece of equipment, but it’s been running this long and we intend to keep it running for at least as long again in future.”

Centre manager Chris Kershaw also had a personal reason for getting the clock fixed as quickly as possible.

Iconic part of Inverness

One of the people who pointed out to him that it had stopped was his five-year-old daughter.

“She came in and let us know it wasn’t working and was pushing hard to get it fixed”, he said.

“It’s an iconic piece. I’m sure it’s the first port of call for many people coming into the centre.

“For certain people, if you say to meet outside a certain shop they’ll say ‘where’s that?’.

“But if you say you’ll meet under the clock they know exactly where that is.”

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Courtesy of Latest News and Sport Headlines from Inverness | Press and Journal