COMMUNITY ORCHARD

CLOCK TOWER HISTORY

The Clock Tower started as a small market hall to replace the old sixteenth century Town House, which contained the market hall below and the school above and stood on the opposite side of the road. There had been many complaints about the appearance and state of the old building, so in 1842 the school was moved into what is now The Old Corner House and the Lord of the Manor, Abel Smith, gave Wendover a new market hall on the opposite side of the road.

The building is twenty-one feet square and constructed of local red bricks laid in a pattern with shiny black headers.  A stumpy brick tower with openings for clock faces projects above a low slate roof and is capped by another slate roof with a turret and weather vane.

Wendover market, although dating from the time of Edward III had by 1847 dwindled to, “a meagre assemblage of the peasantry of the contiguous districts, standing at the corners of the streets, with baskets of straw plat, and at the doors of public houses”

So by 1870 there seems to have been little need for a building, however small, to be devoted to the market. 

The parish fire engine was housed in a small shed-like building at the foot of the High Street, where there appears to have been little room for fuel and equipment storage. It was therefore decided to move the engine into the Clock Tower , where there was ample storage space, and where a lock-up was provided in the corner “as a terror to evil doers”. 

The fire engine did not quite fit in, therefore horizontal slots were cut into the existing piers at the wheel hub level to enable the engine to be slotted in.

In spite of efforts to make it fit the Clock Tower, the parish fire engine was only there for seven years, before it was moved to a small building on the other side of Aylesbury Road. The bell was still used to summon the Fire Brigade, but for the next hundred years the Clock Towers main function seems to have been that of a timekeeper for the people of Wendover.

In 1962 the building was officially presented to the Parish Council by, Lionel Abel-Smith, and a few years later the Parish Council acquired the Manorial Waste from the Lord of the Manor. 

In 1984, a local architect, carried out a detailed survey of the old structure and produced a design which showed how it could be adapted to accommodate the Parish Clerk as well as a public information centre on the ground floor and a small meeting area on the first floor.   Further refurbishments were completed in 1992 to improve the ground floor. 

Today the Clock Tower remains the offices of the Parish Council, accommodating four office based staff and two groundsmen. Tourism information can now be found at the Library, along the High Street.

 

By Ian Toplis