Mon | Nov 20, 2017

Plan to restore Half-Way Tree clock hits a snag - mayor

Published:Tuesday | November 14, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Half-Way Tree clock was damaged last August by fire.

A plan to restore the fire-damaged Half-Way Tree clock has hit a snag, according to the mayor of Kingston, Delroy Williams.

He said that the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) was working closely with a private company on restoration efforts but noted that a technical glitch occurred, halting the project. Williams refused to name the company.

"We are working closely with a private company that will remain nameless for now to restore the clock," Williams told The Gleaner.

It has been more than a year since fire of unknown origin damaged the historic clock on the morning of Tuesday, August 23, 2016. The clock tower, however, was not damaged in the blaze.

Williams said that restoration work on the clock was still top of the agenda.

"We take pride in doing work to restore and to beautify our city. The Half-Way Tree clock is a monument and it is certainly my aim to find partnerships to get it working once again. The fire was unfortunate, but now it's up to us do what we must," stated Williams.

Work is also scheduled to take place on the Cross Roads clock, which has not ticked a second for quite a while.

KSAMC's record of maintaining clocks bad - Henriques

Former chairman of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT), Ainsley Henriques, has cited the lack of a proper maintenance programme for the derelict state of the public clocks at Half-Way Tree and Cross Roads, respectively.

"The maintenance of clocks such as the one at Half-Way Tree is the responsibility of the municipality. The fire apart, I am not sure enough was being done in this regard," Henriques said.

"The KSAMC has had a really bad record over the years in terms of its maintenance programmes and the state of the clocks, among other sites, for which they are responsible is deplorable," he said.

An official of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) said that public clocks that have been declared heritage sites are being looked at and a model partnership is being worked out for restoration work. A similar clock to the one in Half-Way Tree sits idle in the centre of Chapelton, Clarendon.

"Clocks, in terms of the mechanics, are the responsibility of the corporation, but it's the clock tower on the monument on which it sits that is the responsibility of the JNHT once it's been declared a heritage site," the official said.

"The last time the clock in Half-Way Tree worked was when it was rehabilitated through collaboration with the Bureau of Standards. A similar effort was made for the Cross Roads clock," the official said.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com