Year-long restoration of clock tower draws to a close; 42 traditional artisans worked for months

Chennai Corporation has completed restoration of the iconic clock tower on Ripon Buildings.

The scaffolding was removed on Saturday after meticulous restorative artwork in lime-mortar was carried out by traditional sculptors over the past one year.

“As many as 22 stapathis worked during the day and 20 at night for the past few months on the spin type artwork, roman flowers, key stones and circular columns,” said an official of Chennai Corporation.

After removal of plastering, raking, pointing and grouting, the stapathis refused to work because of the high wind speed on top of Ripon Buildings’ clock tower a few months ago.

The Chennai Corporation had to use strong double-legged scaffolding to strengthen the structure to persuade the stapathis to work.

Restoration work began a year ago, but was halted for a brief while because of the non-availability of trained staff to undertake the specialised work in lime-mortar. Not everyone can take up lime-mortar work, as it is no longer used in modern construction, officials said.

“The work on the dial of the clock will be completed in a few days,” said the official. The five bells of the clocks are expected to start chiming next Friday. The black colour finish for the clock has already been done. After restoration, the clock will chime four times for every 15 minutes, eight times for 30 minutes, 12 times for 45 minutes and 16 times for 60 minutes.

After chiming 16 times for every hour, the clock will again chime the number of hours giving a 30 second gap. At 10 a.m., residents can hear the clock chime 10 times, 30 seconds after chiming 16 times.

The clock tower looks small from the ground level of the Ripon Buildings. But the height of the clock tower from the terrace is almost equal to that of the building, officials said.

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