After months of specialist restoration work behind a tower of scaffolding, Bathurst Courthouse’s iconic 138-year-old clock is back on display and fully operational.
Deputy Premier and Member for Bathurst Paul Toole said the heritage-listed courthouse is one of the finest public buildings in NSW and the clock is the jewel in its crown.
“To have the clock face unmasked and working again is not only historically significant but very exciting for the people of Bathurst. A local jeweller and watchmaker will be trained to carry out regular maintenance on the clock so it can remain in top condition for many years to come,” Mr Toole said.
Attorney General Mark Speakman said while most work on the 500kg timepiece was completed earlier this year, it remained hidden by scaffolding while other construction continued at the front of courthouse.
“Now it has been unveiled for all to see, and after master clockmaker Andrew Markerink tweaked the mechanism and connected up the bell, the clock is keeping perfect time and chiming proudly every hour across the Bathurst CBD,” Mr Speakman said.
The clock was supplied by celebrated horologist Angelo Tornaghi and installed by his son Remo during the courthouse construction in the 1880s. The restoration was carried out by Mr Markerink’s Master Clockmakers Pty Ltd of Camden, the last surviving firm to make handmade clocks and watches to order in Australia.
“This has been a challenging project in many ways, but also important and rewarding work to preserve such a beautiful piece of Bathurst’s history,” Mr Markerink said.
The courthouse is undergoing $6.43 million worth of other conservation works including:
· repairing sandstone, copper, metal, leadwork and timber elements;
· replacing the deteriorated sandstone cornice around the base of the copper dome;
· repairs to 27 chimneys; and
· maintenance of the copper-clad bell tower.
The courthouse is also benefiting from the NSW Government’s $148 million package to ease pressure on the District Court by appointing seven extra judges, including a judge for Bathurst, Orange and Parkes. The work includes a security upgrade, a jury assembly room, new lobby and public toilets.
That’s on top of the construction of two new remote witness rooms, with state of the art audio visual equipment, a new safe room and accessible bathroom facilities. These facilities will provide private and secure areas for vulnerable witnesses to prepare for court enabling them to provide their best evidence.