Perhaps one of the most distinctive features of this area now is the three-sided clock outside the pub.
Unveiled in 1960
Grandad noted in his diary that the clock was first unveiled on 27 April 1960. According to him, the Nag’s Head gave the piece of land, Kirkby Urban and District Council supplied the plinth and Kirkby in Ashfield Chamber of Trade bought the clock, see Chapter 86.
In a comment on Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group, Heather Mulholland expressed surprise that the clock was placed as late as 1960. Also, she was not aware that it had been paid for by Kirkby in Ashfield Chamber of Trade. She recalled that there had been a plaque on it. However, “as often is the case when you’re young I didn’t read it“. She recollected that the Chamber of Trade had relaunched Christmas Carnivals in Kirkby. This involved businesses taking part in window competitions and having Christmas trees and lights above their premises.
Working on the Clock
Terry Bellinger noted on Kirkby-in-Ashfield People Facebook Group that his father-in-law Douglas Symonds used to repair the clock years ago. Diane Bellinger elaborated. She explained that her father “used to do all the lights, (electrics) also for all the Ashfield Christmas Trees for the switch on in the 70s. Also mainly the Big one which was at Sutton in Ashfield, Portland Square“.
Memories of the Clock
At the unveiling ceremony for the clock in 2019, the leader of the Council noted that the clock was used for checking the time while waiting for the bus and as a popular meeting place. In a comment on Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group, Christine Evans confirmed that the clock was “always a meeting place for the folk of Kirkby“. Mark Staples noted that he had “sat many a night after closing time on the bench that went around it“.
Some contributors on both Kirkby-in-Ashfield People Facebook Group and Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group commented on the reliability of the clock. For example, Davey Carl Campbell referred to it as “the clock that never worked“. However, he did not necessarily see that as a wholly bad thing commenting, “mind you kept me out of trouble when I said I’d be home for 6pm and rolled in at 2am stupid o’clock“!! Olwyn Scothern observed that it was not very often that all the sides told the same time. She also noted that you needed to know the time before you looked at it!
A Period of Absence
Although the clock is there now, it was absent from 2013 to 2018.
The Clock Was Restored in 2019
The renovated clock was reinstalled outside the Nag’s Head in March 2019. An article in Chad noted that this followed a petition from the heritage centre. There is a YouTube video of the unveiling ceremony. In this, the leader of the Council acknowledged that “thousands of people across Kirkby in Ashfield wanted to see the clock put back in its rightful place outside the Nag’s Head where it stood for over half a century until it was sadly removed in 2014 .”
He particularly acknowledged the role played by Kirkby Heritage Centre, and in particular Chris Kidger, in campaigning for the clock to be reinstated. Other people acknowledged included Pat Simms, Beverley Newton, Pauline Brown and Clare Lilley and other ladies who had knitted a replica clock! The ceremony included a performance of a song by Keith Gore entitled “The Three-Way Nag’s Head Clock“. There is also a video of the full song on YouTube.
Is This the Original Clock?
There seems to be some doubt as to whether the current clock is the original Kirkby clock. There are some references to a clock being in this location prior to 1960s. For example, the Annesley Extra OC Heritage Extra Facebook page refers to a clock being in place with a seat around it in the 1940s. However, I have not found any documentary evidence of this. There is strong evidence that the clock was first installed in April 1960.
In the video of the unveiling ceremony, reference is made to the “fully-refurbished” clock. This involved new timing mechanisms, more efficient lighting, restored faces and dials that bear the name of the original clock manufacturer, Cope who were based in Lenton, Nottingham.
Plaque on the Clock
In a comment on Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group, Heather Mulholland noted that she had looked at the clock’s plaque that day. She noted that it says that the clock was installed in 1960. The plaque is visible on the YouTube video of the unveiling ceremony. I am not sure if it is the original plaque but it could be. It states, “this clock was erected jointly by the Kirkby-in-Ashfield Urban District Council and the Kirkby-in-Ashfield Chamber of Trade on a site provided by Tennant Bros Ltd April 1960“.