Town Clock moves with the times

Published on 08 July 2024


Launceston's iconic Town Clock will display accurate time moving forward, following an upgrade project that will see the original mechanism entering 'semi-retirement'.

The Council last week oversaw the installation of a new digital controller for the clock faces which bypasses the original Gillett and Johnston clock mechanism.

City of Launceston Mayor Matthew Garwood said the original mechanism would remain functional and completely intact, and could be restored to full operation in a matter of minutes for special occasions.

However, for future day-to-day operations, the new digital controller would drive the Town Clock's four clock faces starting this week.

The Town Clock's bells and chimes will continue to operate as normal.

Mayor Garwood likened the transition to 'semi-retirement' for the original mechanism.

"In recent years it's become common for clock towers around Australia and the world to move towards digital controllers," Mayor Garwood said.

"There's a variety of reasons for this, including that these upgrades preserve the historic original clock mechanisms, require less maintenance, and help maintain internet accurate time.

"Here in Launceston we know that if the Town Clock breaks down, or stops for maintenance, we receive a lot of phone calls from people who expect the clock to be minute accurate.

"This new digital controller will help us meet those expectations, but will preserve the original mechanism allowing it to enter into semi-retirement.

"I've no doubt in future years the original mechanism will continue to be utilised for special occasions or to satisfy the curiosity of local historians.

"This project is actually the second automation style upgrade Launceston's Town Clock has received, with an electric automatic clock winder installed some decades ago."

Mayor Garwood said the original Gillet and Johnston clock mechanism had served the city well for 115 years.

"While the original mechanism will be bypassed by the new digital controller, the City of Launceston will continue to preserve and care for this historic piece of machinery," Mayor Garwood said.