WHITBY’s Old Town Hall bell is set to ring out once more after Whitby Town Council elected to restore the clock piece to its original settings.
The council was given the option to choose how often it would like the clock tower’s bell to chime, with tourists staying nearby having previously complained they were disturbed by its ringing through the night.
However town mayor John Freeman, whose art studio sits on the Market Place, said that for many locals the bell chiming is more of a comfort than a disturbance.
He added: “On a very intimate note, there’s one lady who’s desperately ill with cancer now and she was desperately upset when the town clock failed as it acted as a form of comfort for her.
“So if a visitor finds it upsetting then it’s a bit like the person that moves to the country and complains about all the cows.”
Speaking at Whitby Town Council’s meeting on Tuesday, Coun Ian Havelock said he has conducted a survey among residents nearby and all agreed the bell should chime all day and night.
“No-one I asked was for it being curtailed,” he said.
“Everyone was for it chiming as it has for hundreds of years.
“They were very concerned it could be curtailed for the convenience of people who are visiting for a week. It’s my feeling it’s part and parcel of Whitby’s history and it should chime.”
Councillors were unable to confirm whether the bell previously chimed every 15 minutes, but it was decided the council would insist the bell would ring on the hour all day and night, while it would only signal 15 minutes between the hours of 9am and 9pm.
Concerns were also raised as the clock was now powered digitally, that the chiming would be louder than it was previously.
However, Coun Phil Trumper dismissed this, and said: “I heard the chiming and it’s the same volume as before. Although it was 10 o’clock and it only chimed five times, which was a worry at first.”
Coun Freeman also explained how he was less pleased with how the £35,000 restoration of the Town Hall and clock had progressed.
Last week the Gazette featured a report, compiled after a site visit with SBC’s property asset manager Alan Dargue.
Coun Freeman disputed some of the statements made in that article, believing the work could have been carried out much quicker and more effectively.
He said: “The piece in the Gazette is absolutely wrong. The last job they did was to clean out the pigeon muck. If you are going to sort something out that’s not the way round you would do it.
“This piece of guff about how wonderful the restoration has been really upsets me. The whole thing is a farce. I think the article doesn’t at all reflect the actual application of the work. I haven’t seen workmen on that scaffolding for days and days, the whole thing is ridiculous.”
The present Town Hall building was first built in 1788 and is actually a glorified toll booth. It was later used as a public building, where the Court Leet was held. A curfew bell was sounded at 6am and 6pm, but this practice has now ceased.