Stop the clock: hands rest on 12 o’clock while earthquake strengthening is carried out on Carterton’s iconic clock tower. PHOTO/GIANINA SCHWANECKE

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
gianina.schwanecke@age.co.nz

Don’t panic if you don’t hear the regular chiming of Carterton’s iconic clock tower over the next couple of weeks – it has been closed while it undergoes earthquake strengthening.

The original tower was built above the Carterton post office in 1907, but it was badly damaged in the 1942 Wairarapa earthquake and had to be demolished.

The bells and clock parts from London went into storage until it was replaced in 1962 by the present 13m-high structure.

Several years ago, the Carterton District Council undertook a seismic investigation and found that it would require earthquake strengthening works.

Council planning and regulatory manager Dave Gittings explained that the clock had been stopped and the bells would remain silent while the work was carried out.

“Although the town may be silent of clock bells, the opportunity to maintain the clock mechanism while the earthquake strengthening is happening makes sense,” he said.

During this period, other than undertaking clock mechanism maintenance, the remedial team would also give the tower a fresh coat of paint.

The strengthening work will involve putting in a large reinforced concrete base for stability as well as internal cross bracing, at a cost of $270,000.

“We understand that this may be upsetting for some residents, but the contractors will work efficiently to ensure the clock is only out of action for the necessary period.”

As part of the project one tree would need to be removed as its roots were impacting on the structure.

Gittings said removing the tree is unfortunate but necessary.

“We need to remedy this issue. However, our community is very proud of our gardens and therefore, planning will commence to replace the existing trees with a landscape design which will suit the needs of the environment and the surrounding infrastructure.”