Herne Bay

Herne Bay, Clock Tower

Photo: Dickon R Love, 16 Jun 2019

Details of the Bells

Bell Weight
(most recent)
Diameter Note Date Founder Canons Retuned
Clock bell 12 cwt approx. c.1837 Thomas Mears II, Whitechapel Never

 - Hung dead


1836 Construction began on a clock tower on the sea front, approximately 80 feet high. It was given by Mrs A Thwaites. The clock had 4 dials that were illuminated at night by gas lights. It was equipped with a 12 cwt bell cast by Mears at Whitechapel, either in this year or the next year. [1]
1837 The clock tower, whilst not completely finished, was opened on Thur 4 Oct with a grand procession. [2]
1971 The clock mechanism was replaced.
2014 Remedial work took place on the tower and clock. Most of the attention was focused on the stonework, although the dials were reglazed and fresh gilding was applied
[1] ERECTION OF A NOBLE COLUMN The daily increase of visitors to this delightful watering place, causes considerable bustle and animation in the new town. Among the arrivals is the benevolent Mrs. Thwaites, who, as we have before stated, has generously contributed a large sum of money towards the erection of two infant schools. This lady has since announced her intention of erecting a column fronting the sea, which is to be surmounted by an illuminated clock, to serve the purpose of a land mark for mariners and the convenience of the inhabitants. We have seen Mr. Dangferfield’s design, which is highly creditable to his taste as the architect, exhibiting as it does great beauty throughout the structure without any profuse display of unmeaning decoration. The column will be sixty feet high and it is hoped will be finished early in the next year. Mr White has been appointed mason, Mr. Hukins bricklayer, and Mr Greenwood, of Canterbury, And Mr. Morton, are to erect the clock without regard to expence [sic]. The bell, which is to be cast by Mears will weigh 12 cwt., and the following gentlemen have been appointed trustees:- Messrs. Brough, Burge, Brett, J. Collard, Dangerfield, Hunt and Parkiss. The first stone will be laid the first week in October, (we believe the 3d, which is the birthday of Mrs. Thwaites,) with considerable ceremony, preparations having already commenced for that purpose. The cost of the erection will be about 2000 guineas. We have received it from good authority that each of the four dials for the clock, will cost £40 being made of plate glass of uncommon thickness, so as to resist the frequent gales to which the column must necessarily be exposed (Kentish Weekly Post or Canterbury Journal, Tues 23 Aug 1836)
[2] OPENING OF THE CLOCK TOWER AT HERNE BAY This delightful watering-place was a scene of much hustle and gaiety on Tuesday last, to celebrate the completion of the Clock Tower, the munificent gift of Mrs Thwaites, who has distinguished herself by many other acts of liberality and kindness towards the inhabitants. Nothing could be more favourable for the ceremony than the day itself. A serene and cloudless sky, a bridge but not oppressive sun, and gentle breezes from the south-west, were the contributions of nature towards the hilarity of the scene, and the enjoyment of the spectators. At an early hour in the morning, gay parties were seen arriving in every direction, on foot, in carriages, gigs, and vehicles of humbler description. Sailing boats from Margate brought visitors from the place and the Red Rover landed a considerable number of persons on the magnificent pier at eleven o’clock who returned to Margate by the City of Canterbury in the evening. The Clock Tower, though not entirely finished, was sufficiently completed to present and accurate view of the structure, which does the highest credit to Mr Dangerfield, the architect. It has a light and elegant appearance, and, from its situation, constitutes a bold and striking object, whether viewed from the sea or land. There are four transparent dials, on the four faces of the tower. Flags and banners were floating in every direction, upon many of which were inscriptions appropriate to the day. The initials of Mrs. Thwaites (“A. T.”) appeared also in several places, tastefully arranged in variegated lamps. The lady herself had taken up her abode at the house of Mr Camplin, on the Marine Parade from whence she proceeded to open the Clock Tower. The hour appointed for this part of the ceremony was twelve o’clock, and, punctually as the hour struct, Mrs. Thwaites entered her carriage, which was followed by three or four other private carriages, filled with elegantly dressed ladies. A triumphal arch had been erected, covered with laurel, under which the procession moved, preceded by the Committee, a band of music and flags. When it had arrived within about thirty yards of the Tower, Mrs Thwaites alighted, and walked up the temporary platform which had been constructed for the occasion, to the entrance door of the Tower. At this moment, the guns were fired, and the band of music struck up the national anthem. On each side of the platform, the charity children were arranged, and behind them the assembled spectators. The scene had now become very striking. The next proceeding was to read a letter from Mrs. Thwaites, in which she announced her intention of presenting to the inhabitants of Herne Bay this magnificent gift. The reading of the letter was followed by three times three deadening cheers, and another round of firing from the guns. An address from the inhabitants to the munificent donor was then read, and Mrs Thwaites returned to her carriage amid the acclamations of the persons present. She was very elegantly dressed, in figured blue satin trimmed with blonde, and wore a white chip had with ostrich feathers, and rich blonde veil white lace gloves, with costly rings worn outside. The procession moved, in the same order, to the Assembly Rooms, where a dinner of roast beef and plum pudding was provided at Mrs Thwaites expense, for between four and five hundred charity children. When they were all served, the benevolent giver of the feast walked round the room, attended as before, and was received with hearty cheers by her young friends. The band afterwards struck up “Oh the roast beef of Old England” and forthwith the roast beef and plum-pudding began to disappear “like the baseless fabric of a vision”. The festivities of the day closed with dinner parties at the different inns, illuminations, etc. etc. It is calculated that the total expense of the Clock Tower will be nearly £4,000. It is said that the clock itself, with the bell cost £500. The clock dials were illuminated in the evening, and the lighting of them, we hear, is to be continued as soon as the gas works are completed. The clock, with the transparent dials, were made by Mr Morton of Herne Bay, and Mr. Greenwood of Canterbury; and the superior manner in which these dials have been manufactured, from the softness of the light and brilliancy of effect, called forth the highest encomium from all present. The clock strikes upon a bell of 12 cwt. (Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers' Gazette, Sat 7 Oct 1837)


The base of the tower.
Photo: Dickon R Love, 16 Jun 2019

The inscription on the tower.
Photo: Dickon R Love, 16 Jun 2019

The bell hanging at the top of the tower.
Photo: Mike Bundock, 2014

Chimed with an external hammer.
Photo: Mike Bundock, 2014

Love's Guide to the Church Bells of Kent Page updated: 31 December 2021