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3,000 turn out for reopening of clock tower

Fireworks display and light show to welcome back iconic Herne Bay building

EXPLOSIVE: A night never to forget
EXPLOSIVE: A night never to forget

FIREWORKS, a light show and a huge crowd of 3,000 people made it a night to remember on Herne Bay seafront on Saturday. The event was held to mark the refurbishment of the town’s clock tower and proved predictably moving for those who had been involved in a project that cost in the region of £380,000. Colleen Ashwin-Kean, volunteer and events co-ordinator with the Friends of Herne Bay Clock Tower, spoke of her excitement. She said:

“We’d obviously seen it from before the scaffolding went up and watched it every step of the way. We had also seen the lights before, but when they were turned on on Saturday it was very emotional. The clock tower looks absolutely superb now — pristine. I think everybody enjoyed themselves. We had a few speeches and then the lights show and the fireworks.”


CROWDS: 3,000 people turned out for the event
CROWDS: 3,000 people turned out for the event

The LED lighting system on the building has different modes. While it will generally be bathed in white, there will also be celebratory, Valentine’s and sombre modes, the last for when “something sad” happens either in the town or nationally. On Saturday the crowds were treated to white, Valentine’s and, of course, celebratory.

“I’d like to say how well Phoenix Fireworks did with the show,” said Ms Ashwin-Kean. “There were even little red hearts going up — very clever.”

There is still some work to be done on the building, primarily on the steps, and this will continue for the next two or three months, but essentially the project is complete.

“The refurbishment should last another 100 years,” said Ms Ashwin-Kean. “The last big one was in 1905 — there had been a couple since, but nothing like this.”

Amid the celebrations there was a poignant moment when a plaque was placed on the south-facing side of the tower to remember Edward Griggs, who was killed in that 1905 refurbishment when a weight inside the building fell on him. With Heritage Lottery Funding available for another two years of community and educational work, there is still much to be done, Ms Ashwin-Kean stressed.

“There is still lots we want to do,” she said. “We need volunteers to help in the information centre [opposite the clock tower] and there are projects we want to get Herne Bay schools involved in. We’re also keen to hear any ideas that people have for events at the tower and in the information centre. We’re already thinking of having a Great Clock Tower Bake-off cooking competition, but we want to hear from the people of this town what they want.”

• If you have any ideas for events at the clock tower or information centre, or would like to help in any way, you can e-mail clocktowervolunteers@gmail.com.
You can also learn more at www.clocktowerfriends.org

Herne Bay Times, February 18th 2015

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