It’s a sound the people of Truro have been missing for years. The reassuring peal of the bells ringing out from Truro’s historic clock tower were silenced as the tower on top of what is now the Hall for Cornwall fell into disrepair. However, there were cheers in the city on Tuesday when the bells started ringing again.

For over five years the grand structure on Boscawen Street, which also incorporates the Municipal Building home of Truro City Council, has been covered in scaffolding as the finishing touches were made to the Hall for Cornwall refurbishment as well as the specialist work on the clock, its mechanism and the tower.

Falmouth Packet: Truro City Council's Richard Budge inspects the mechanism inside the new-look clock towerTruro City Council's Richard Budge inspects the mechanism inside the new-look clock tower (Image: Lee Trewhela / LDRS)

The scaffolding has now been removed revealing the results of a £1.7m programme of renovation work on the clock tower, which was split 50/50 between the city council and Cornwall Council, alongside donations, including a generous £10,000 from town crier and proud Truronian Lionel Knight.

The City Hall and the clock tower were badly damaged by fire in 1914, which left only the side of the tower that faces Boscawen Street remaining in its original granite form. The cinders from the fire can still be seen in the rafters of the tower.

At the time, the three lost sides were reconstructed using reinforced concrete and were rendered to give the appearance, from street level, of granite. The steelwork used within the tower to create this façade more than a century ago became badly corroded over time.

Falmouth Packet: Shaun Stevens, of Fox Construction Solutions who carried out the renovation workShaun Stevens, of Fox Construction Solutions who carried out the renovation work (Image: Lee Trewhela / LDRS)

After consulting Historic England, local specialists Fox Construction Solutions started the work following the completion of the Hall for Cornwall’s major refurbishment project. 

Shaun Stevens, from the company, told us: “It’s been a privilege to do this. We dismantled the original clock tower because it was in poor condition – three sides were concrete, which we dismantled to the steel beams in the roof void in the building. The granite, which fronts Boscawen Street, was photographed, labelled and taken away really carefully and stored off-site.

“Then we took the bells and clock mechanism out and reconstructed the tower in the reverse sequence in pre-cast concrete on three sides with a granite appearance. On the north façade, which faces Boscawen Street, we put the original granite back in. It was very challenging. We started on October 5 and finished today – the bells are ringing today for the first time bar a few tests.”

The city council is now planning on moving back to its original chamber, after relocating across the city during the work to the theatre.

Richard Budge, of Truro City Council, added: “There was concern that what was holding the clock tower up may well fail and tumble back in on the council chamber, which would have been an absolute disaster as it would have come straight down through. The work now means, hopefully, it will be okay for another 100 to 150 years.”

Falmouth Packet: The finished clock tower in the heart of TruroThe finished clock tower in the heart of Truro (Image: Lee Trewhela / LDRS)

Richard is certainly glad of one particular development. He explained: “The clock is fully automated now whereas before we had to wind it by hand – you had to wind the clock itself, then the hour strike and then the quarter-hour strike. The new system will save us having to go up there every couple of days. It was hard work – 74 turns of the clock and 52 turns on the hour strike.”

He said: “We’ve had some very kind generations towards it, including from our town crier. He always comes up trumps to help the city out.”


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Lionel was the first person to donate money towards the refurbishment, with a very generous £10,000. “Without the money the clock would never have been rebuilt and that saddened me as a Truro boy, so I got the ball rolling in 2021. When I look at it and hear it now I feel very proud. It’s absolutely brilliant what they’ve done.”

Falmouth Packet: Inside the renovated clocktower which overlooks Truro city centreInside the renovated clocktower which overlooks Truro city centre (Image: Lee Trewhela / LDRS)

Someone else who is delighted the bells are ringing out again is Mayor of Truro Carol Swain, who said: “This means a huge amount for Truro because this is the City Hall. It’s been the home for the city council for decades – longer than I’ve been alive and I’ll be 70 next year, so it’s a long time.

“I was really worried when we first discovered what a bad condition it was in that we would have to say goodbye to the clock tower, but thankfully the money was found and we’ve been able to put it back in its glory. It’s wonderful to hear it striking again after so many years.

“The city council moved out of this building over five years ago and now we’ve got a clock tower that’s not going to collapse and land on our heads … and that’s a bonus as well!”