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Library clock set to return home to Gorleston High Street

After being in storage for more than forty years Gorleston's Carnegie clock is set to returning to its rightful place at the heart of the high street.

Gorleston Carnegie Clock

Back in 1907, the then County Borough of Great Yarmouth purchased the clock for a sum of £110 and placed it on the corner of Gorleston's Carnegie library, making it viewable from all directions. 

It passed into the ownership of Norfolk County Council during local government reorganisation. Following the demolition of the old library in 1975, the clock was put into storage for safety.

Now thanks to the hard work of community volunteers and the support of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, the clock will be returned to Gorleston High Street with a new home at Palace Cinema.

As part of the move the ownership of the clock will pass from the County Council to the Borough, which has agreed a free permanent loan to Palatial Leisure.

Before being returned to the High Street the clock will undergo restoration by the professionals at Michlmayr Clock and Watch Restorers of Norwich over the next few months, with the hope it can go back on show this summer. 

Gorleston Carnegie Clock Group raised around £6,000 towards the restoration and maintenance before the pandemic put a stop to their efforts, with the borough council stepping into fund the remaining £8,500 cost.

Group chair Sheila Russell said: "We had several sales, flower arranging, cake sales and quizzes, and we have had lots of support from local businesses in Gorleston and across the borough. Local artist Geoffrey Chatten kindly donated a wonderful painting of the Town Hall and that auctioned for £1,400.

"With Covid-19 everything came to a halt, so we were very pleased when the council agreed to help."

The group worked with St Andrews ward borough councillors Marlene Fairhead and Barbara Wright and Great Yarmouth Borough Council leader Carl Smith to secure the remaining funding.

Cllr Smith said: "The Gorleston Carnegie Clock Group has worked so hard to get the clock reinstated along Gorleston High Street. We are happy to be able to help restore this landmark.

"The centre of Gorleston is really important for the borough, and I know lots of people will have fond memories of the clock and will be pleased to see it back in pride of place."

Cllr Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council said: "The Carnegie Clock is an important part of Gorleston's history, so it was only right that we gave it back to the local community. 

"The passion and dedication shown to the clock's restoration is clear and I look forward to seeing it on public view in its new position at the Palace Cinema."

More than 2,500 Carnegie libraries were built around the world between 1883 and 1929, including 660 in the United Kingdom, with funding from Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. 

The Gorleston library was opened in 1907 following a £2,000 grant from Carnegie but was demolished in 1975 when the site, together with that of a former tram service depot were developed into the present-day library.

Last modified on 03 January 2024

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