The much-loved bells of Sydney’s oldest clocktower rung out for the first time in 532 days today following a careful restoration by some of Australia’s leading heritage sandstone experts.
The 17-month restoration of the 55-metre tall Sydney Town Hall clocktower completes the first stage of a lengthy conservation project of Sydney’s landmark civic building.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said stonemasons from the Traditional Stonemasonry Company, City staff and consultants had done a superb job that should make every Sydneysider proud of its history.
“Expert stonemasons, tradespeople and City staff and consultants have worked passionately and tirelessly to restore the 140-year-old sandstone clocktower,” the Lord Mayor said.
“Using centuries-old skills and techniques, stonemasons have chiselled and carved about 26 cubic metres of sandstone with unique and intricate designs to replace damaged pieces of the clocktower.
“I climbed the scaffolding with the team to see their expert craftwork up close – it will be terrific to see it revealed once more, the bells ringing again and beautifully restored for generations to come.”
The town hall and clocktower were built between 1869 and 1889 from Pyrmont ‘yellow block’ sandstone and, despite being in short supply, the same sandstone was used in the restoration on the advice of heritage experts.
Slight colour differences can be seen between the original building material and the recent restoration work due to the age of the sandstone and the timing of when it was removed from the ground.
The conservation work also included seismic bracing by adding steel reinforcements, the safe removal of asbestos, and installing environmentally-friendly low-voltage LED lighting.
To protect the restoration workers’ hearing and the clock’s mechanism, the historic timepiece was wrapped in protective dust cloth and temporarily ceased chiming in late March, 2012.
The lower chime bells and the tenor bell in the belfry gave a celebratory ring of the Westminster chimes to mark midday. The bells were turned off again to allow workers on site to safely remove the remaining scaffolding, which will be completely removed in October.
Stage two of the restoration is due to start soon and will include the south and north sides of Sydney Town Hall.
For more information, visit sydneytownhall.com.au
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