Right on Chime

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Updated: 13th Oct 2010

The iconic Ararat Town Hall Clock is chiming on the hour; every hour after a Good Samaritan offered his services to restore the once broken mechanism that delights so many residents within Ararat Rural City.  The striking device, which has been silent for almost 12 months due to natural wear and tear, was repaired by Mr. Graeme Burgin, a volunteer retired businessman that offers his expertise to the Performing Arts Centre.

The Ararat Town Hall Building was initially built in 1898, whilst the clock tower was installed 34 years later in 1932 as a gift from Cr. Alex McDonald, transforming the symmetrical facade into one of Ararat’s most historical and beautiful buildings.

Mr. Burgin said the striking mechanism which instigates the chiming every hour had become defunct and a new timing motor was needed to maintain accurate timing so as the chiming matched the hands on the clock face.

“The clock is made up of two completely separate systems, a clock face, and a timing mechanism, which includes the striking mechanism and bell.  Due to age and extensive wear, the striking mechanism broke down around 12 months ago and it has been a work in progress ever since.” He said.

“The old system which wore out needed to be replaced with a newer more accurate striking system.”

Mr. Burgin has volunteered his services to the Performing Arts Centre, J Ward Museum Complex and the Ararat Town Hall clock for over 13 years when he first restored the clock after it ceased to function in 1997.

Mr. Rod McKenzie, Director of the Performing Arts Centre was full of praise for Mr. Burgin after his recent works successfully made the chiming mechanism operate again.

“Graeme is a real asset to the Performing Arts Centre and to the Town Hall precinct and his hard work has paid off once again with the Town Hall clock being restored to its previous glory.” He said.

“The work involved in restoring the striking mechanism was enormous.  Graeme had to build the timing gears for the clock by hand; this is not a process that many people could fathom.”

Mr. Mark Hogan, General Manager Development Services of Ararat Rural City Council said without volunteers such as Graeme, iconic landmarks such as the Town Hall clock may cease to function.

“Ararat Rural City relies heavily upon volunteers like Graeme.  Quite often volunteers work either goes unnoticed or undervalued and that is a real shame.  Everywhere you look volunteers are helping shape the community, whether it is Meals on Wheels, Langi Morgala Museum, J Ward, the Ararat and Grampians Visitor Information Centre or Gum San Chinese Heritage Centre.  Volunteers, such as Graeme, play a pivotal role within Ararat Rural City.”

“We are indebted to Graeme for his great contribution and we would like to thank him very much for his hard work in restoring the clock.”

Mr. Burgin stated that although the striking mechanism is now restored, the clock mechanism is far overdue to be restored as one of the hands on the east side of the clock face is broken, which in turn, places the hands out of balance, creating stress and strain on the motor which turns the hands.

Mr. Burgin, who turns 69 in February, said the timing mechanism should now work until after his time.

“Hopefully, with any luck, the new striking mechanism will outlast me” he said.

For more information on the Ararat Town Hall clock contact pac@ararat.vic.gov.au or phone 5352 2181.

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