Saturday, August 24, 2013

Bishop's Castle Town Hall clock makes the Daily Mail

I have been visiting Bishop's Castle in Shropshire for almost 25 years, but it has rarely made the national newspapers.

Today's Daily Mail, however, has picked up the story of Bishop's Castle Town Hall clock:
A hotelier has demanded an ancient clock stop chiming every 15 because it is keeping his customers awake. 
The town hall clock in Bishops Castle in Shropshire which has rung every 15 minutes since the 18th century is now causing a storm on Facebook after one hotelier complained about the noise. 
The small market town in Shropshire attracts thousands of tourists every year, but Henry Hunter, of The Castle Hotel, has requested the traditional tolls be halted after dark. 
He says guests have told him that however much they love the town they will never return to Bishops Castle because of the clock’s 24-hour chiming. 
He said: 'If anyone can come up with a genuine reason why the town clock should chime every 15 minutes throughout the night then I would like to hear it. Surly it would be beneficial to everyone living in close proximity to the clock to have it chime at most on the hour throughout the dead of night?'
The Castle Hotel has improved greatly under Mr Hunter's ownership: the food is good, the staff are young and keen, and it has always had one of the best beer gardens in England. On summer evenings you can sit above the rooftops of the town and watch the swallows feeding and admire the hills beyond.

But the place I have stayed more than any other in Bishop's Castle is Old Time. It is run by Jane Carroll, a former mayor of the town, and she is having none of it:
Jane Carroll, a town councillor who runs a bed and breakfast in the town, has described claims that the clock chimes are having a detrimental effect on the local economy as 'absolute rubbish'. 
She said: 'Bishops Castle has become increasingly popular as a holiday destination over the past 20 years and numbers continue to grow. Yet all this time the Town Hall clock has been donging away every 15 minutes, day and night. 
'Bishops Castle Tourism has worked hard on tourism development over the years and has always had a policy of attracting visitors for what the town and area have to offer rather than changing things to suit visitors specifically. Any initiatives, be it good public footpaths, better signage, an excellent town website, promotion of town events and festivals and, of course, the renovation of the Town Hall should benefit residents as much as visitors. 
'Altering the chiming of the Town Hall clock would go completely against this principle as most town centre residents want the clock chimes to stay as they are. They are a familiar and friendly background sound to our lives and, for many people, a very useful time keeper. Without the quarters, the chimes would be useless as the latter. 
'Instead of complaining about the chimes, the accommodation providers and residents should be celebrating our historic Town Hall clock. It is part of the character of Bishops Castle and appreciated by many.'
It is certainly appreciated by me. It's just the sort of thing I visit the place for.

As my photograph shows, Bishop's Castle Town Hall is currently undergoing restoration and you can read all about it (and the clock controversy) on its Facebook page. The question of the clock will be decided at a town council meeting on 10 September.

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