St Mary’s Church Clock
A clock in the Tower was first put in by the Common Council in 1664 when minutes of the Town Council meeting on 25 November 1664 included “It is this day ordered and agreed by and with the consent of us whose names are subscribed that David Harries Smith be clock keeper for the keeping of the clock of this Tower in repair and for his pains in doing so he is to have and receive the sum of forty shillings yearly. Signed by William Browne, Mayor”.
In a minute for 13 January 1709 the Council “ordered and agreed that the corporation give Mr Selwood twelve pounds to make a substantial clock for the Corporation to go 48 hours and to put the chimes to go with the clock to keep the same in repair during his life, and he is to have all the old clockwork. Richard Smyth, Mayor and 12 of the Council. That clock lasted for 178 years.
In November 1886 permission for the Trustees of the Sir John Perrot Trust to erect a new public clock in the Tower was given by Charles Edward Gregg Philipps of Picton Castle and his wife Mary Philippa, (patrons of the advowson of St Mary’s); the vicar, Rev CH Harrison; and the churchwardens, Edmond Henry Ellis and Seymour de Winton.
The Pembrokeshire Herald for 25 March 1887 reported
The New Town Clock at Haverfordwest
“The new clock erected in St Mary’s Tower by Messrs Joyce of Whitchurch for the Trustees of Sir John Perrott’s Charity may now be said to be fairly tested and to have proved its great merits as an accurate timekeeper”. The custodian, Mr White, “the well known watchmaker of Market Street has taken great interest in this splendid timekeeper which has varied by less than half a second in 24 hours” ….”The good people of Haverfordwest, who were often misled by the inaccuracies of the old clock, cannot feel otherwise than grateful for the generosity of the Trustees who have carried out the work of providing a reliable timekeeper at considerable cost. The new clock, without the incidental expenses, cost £230. Its predecessor had done duty in the Tower for 178 years notwithstanding our respect for the venerable specimen of local skill in clockmaking we are obliged in the interests of truth to state that in its last years of service the duty was done very imperfectly. The Common Council placed the old clock in the tower and records of the transaction show that they made a very hard bargain with their clockmaker. The mechanic who made the clock was named Ellwood and he provided it for the sum of £12. How long Mr Ellwood lived is not known but his handiwork existed in good condition – good and bad – for 178 years.
Originally it had only one dial which was placed in the south face of the Tower. Improvements were introduced and other dials were added, one of them, which faced the east, was transparent and was for a few years after its erection illuminated in the dark hours.”
In 1897 the clock was weight driven and wound weekly when the bellringers attended for their weekly practice. At a meeting of the Trustees of the Sir John Perrot’s Charity on 23 March 1962 a substantial sum was allocated for cleaning and repainting the clock faces and conversion of the mechanism from weight driven to syncro electric movement with the motor installed in the ringing chamber. The work was done by the same firm which installed the clock in 1887, Messrs Joyce of Whitchurch, Shropshire, who continue to be responsible for its maintainance and annual inspection. Sir John Perrot’s Trust continues to meet the expenses for its upkeep.
In 2009 the clock has been provided with an automatic restart system