60-ft-tall structure became defunct decades ago

A century ago, British officers at Fort St. George used to fire cannonballs at 8 p.m. every day, it is said.

The practice stopped after the first standalone clock tower was built at Doveton junction in the early 1900s.

One such clock tower, at Mint Junction, that had been defunct for decades, got a lifeline on Friday when it was run on a trial basis following repairs.

The 60-feet-tall clock tower was revived by the Chennai Corporation and P. Orr & Sons. Each aluminium dial on the clock is four feet in diameter.

“Most of the mechanical iron equipment was rusted and jammed as lubricants had dried over the years. We repaired the clock completely free of cost,” said S. Vel Mani, senior manager, P. Orr & Sons.

At present, the city has only four standalone clock towers — at Mint, Royapettah, Doveton and Pulianthope.

It was last year, when a team of Corporation officials was involved in the construction of Mint flyover, they decided to give a fresh look to the clock tower and roped in experts from P. Orr & Sons.

Run on weight-driven mechanism, the clock has a pendulum, a swinging weight, as its time-keeping element.

Six iron plates have been tied to a metal rope and connected to a chain of wheels.

When the wheels rotate, the iron plates go down and the brass pointer on the dial of the clock moves.

Once the plates hit the floor, the clock stops working. Once a week, maintenance staff in charge of the clock will key it by lifting the plates to run the clock.

A classic example of art-deco architecture, the features of the clock tower include high use of cement concrete, linear model, thin lines, rich usage of colours and fewer floral engravings.

“The architectural style of the clock towers and cinema theatres built in the city in the 1900s were influenced by the industrial and French revolutions,” said historian Sriram V.

More In: Chennai | News