Time ticks by for village heritage

Rev David Herbert with the 200 year old clock in the Erskine United Reformed Church in Belford.
Rev David Herbert with the 200 year old clock in the Erskine United Reformed Church in Belford.

A CHURCH clock is celebrating its 200th birthday this year and it still hangs in the north Northumberland village in which it was made.

The timepiece, in the Erskine United Reformed Church in Belford, was built by clockmaker Thomas Tait in 1812.

And Rev David Herbert is keen to hear if anyone knows about the clock’s origins or Belford’s very own Thomas Tait.

“It’s really part of the village’s heritage,” he said.

“It’s set in the balcony facing the pulpit – the congregation can’t see the time but the preacher can.

“I don’t even know if that was the original location because the church was refurbished in 1875.

“I’ve got every reason to believe it’s always been in the church though.

“A lot of people in the area might not be aware of the clock’s existence or its local provenance.”

Rev Herbert said that his project for the year is to get it running again, and would be grateful if anyone with expertise could help.

“It’s requiring some metal components so it’s not currently running,” he said.

“It runs for a minute or so then stops. It needs some fresh metal.”

The clock was built in the same year that Charles Dickens was born and the US declared war on the British Empire, and has lived through a particularly turbulent two centuries of human history.

Rev Herbert said: “If it’s been ticking for 200 years, the world’s such a different place in some respects but not in others.

“There might not be that many Belford-built clocks still in existence which makes me more keen to get it going again.

“But it tickles me pink that it’s there to remind the preacher not to go on too long!”