Working around the clock to future-proof landmark

06 June 2024

City of Newcastle is investing in the future of the historic City Hall clock, investigating an upgrade that will ensure it continues to keep time for generations of Novocastrians.

The Civic timepiece receives regular check-ups from City of Newcastle's mechanical and electrical services teams, who have identified a range of technical issues currently affecting the operation of the clock and chimes.

City of Newcastle is investing in the future of the historic City Hall clock.City of Newcastle is investing in the future of the historic City Hall clock.

The age of the clock makes repair complex, with specialist advice indicating the mechanism will need to be upgraded to restore accurate timekeeping.

City Hall is listed on the NSW Heritage Register, and City of Newcastle has engaged heritage consultants to explore an upgrade that also preserves the clock's rich heritage.

City of Newcastle Executive Director City Infrastructure Clint Thomson said the clock tower is an antique structure that needs to be handled with care.

“Newcastle City Hall's iconic clock tower has been a well-loved landmark at the heart of the historic Civic precinct since the building, designed by acclaimed architect Henry White, opened in 1929,” Mr Thomson said.

“I think anyone who's appreciated something of this age and importance will understand that sometimes repairs are complex and you can't rush in and fix it overnight. 

“Given the State Heritage significance of City Hall and its associated clocks and chime, a heritage consultant will advise the most appropriate approach to repair, which will then need to receive approval from the relevant heritage authorities.”

The upgrade will be the latest investment into preserving the landmark building for future generations.

City of Newcastle invested $20 million into a large-scale conservation project on City Hall, which was delivered in stages and completed in 2021. 

The completion of the exterior restoration works was celebrated with a visit from His Excellency General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (RETD), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, and Her Excellency Mrs Linda Hurley. 

Conservation work was undertaken by Stone Mason and Artist Pty Ltd, who were responsible for the City Hall clock tower restoration.

City Hall will mark its 95th anniversary in December. The building is prized for its sandstone façade, three-metre clockfaces and Roman Doric and Ionic columns.

While the appropriate advice is obtained and subsequent permissions are sought from Heritage NSW, the clock will be set to midnight and the chimes turned off.