The automatic clock first stood in a turret of the old Imperial Arcade, in Dale End, Birmingham, which was built by Thomas Hall and opened in 1883. The clock, intended as a focal point, was made by William Potts and Sons, of Leeds. The company, which is still in business, has original drawings for the old clock and would be able to make its exact replica. The clock's main attraction was its four moving carved oak figures, depicting Guy, Earl of Warwick opposite a Saracen, both seven and a half feet tall, and the Countess of Warwick and a retainer, at over six feet tall. The local folklore is that Lord Warwick, on his return from the crusades, found his wife in the arms of a lover. Each figure struck one of the five bells on the hour and the quarter hours.
The clock has had a chequered life. It broke down in the arcade in 1904 and remained there for 30 years, falling into disrepair. Percy Shurmer, a city alderman, was the force behind dismantling, restoring and re-siting the clock in the Bull Ring Market Hall on Friday 13 March 1936. It had been cleaned, oiled and painted: the clock-face was finished in gold leaf, the figures in bright colours. The clock proved to be a crowd-puller: people would gather and wait, gazing up, for the bells to be struck. Four years later it and the market hall were burned to the ground; only the central hour bell survived and was re-hung in the burnt-out shell of the hall; it, too, is now thought to be lost. For further information, contact: Dr B. Juby, The Birmingham Market Hall Clock Project, 1 Wash Lane, Yardley, Birmingham B25 8SB, telephone 021-783 2603.
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