Dating back to 1918, Hull’s Guildhall Greenwich Time Ball is the only such timepiece on a municipal building and one of only a few nationally. It reflects the importance of maritime timekeeping, the link with navigation and the need to fix longitude from the John Harrison period (1720s) to the present.
Hull’s Time Ball is also one of the last in the UK to have been built – and the highest. Part of the significance of the building is that Hull’s Time Ball is a very late example of telling time in this way. The Time Ball, which was installed from April 1915 to November 1916, was perhaps one of the last of its kind in Britain.
The historic building will now undergo a programme of physical restoration works, along with a programme of community activity and engagement. This will include the collection of memories, learning, skills and knowledge from the current Clock Custodian through oral history and an appeal for public memories associated with the Guildhall Time Ball. Complementary activities and brand new interpretation will also be on offer enabling visitors to see the Time Ball in full working order for the first time in over 100 years.
Other elements include the renovation to parts of the clock tower and its historic stonework, lantern and iron step repairs and a new electrical installation to supply the Time Ball mechanism with internal lighting.
Once complete, it will join a handful of other working time balls in the UK, including Greenwich London, Carlton Hill in Edinburgh, two in Kent and one in Brighton. None of these has public access to the time ball mechanisms.
Councillor Daren Hale, Portfolio Holder for Economic Investment, Regeneration, Planning, Land and Property, said:
“This is great news for Hull. This funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund shows further support and commitment to the city. My thanks also go to National Lottery players – it couldn’t have happened without them.”
“The restoration will mean the Hull Time Ball can tell its full story and become a popular visitor attraction. People will be able to hear the carillon bells chime and watch the time ball rise and fall.
Developing a learning and activity programme for the Hull Time Ball will also be a unique opportunity for local communities, residents and schools to learn about a true one-of-a-kind piece of maritime heritage.”
David Renwick, Head of HLF Yorkshire and the Humber, said:
“This is a fabulous project for Hull. The Greenwich Time Ball is a real landmark in the city and a timepiece of great heritage importance being one of the last built in this way. It’s fantastic news for Hull’s residents and visitors that, thanks to National Lottery players it will be restored to full working order as part of the Hull City of Culture legacy.
“In total HLF has given just under £50million to over 125 projects in Hull from large-scale investments to small community projects – the restoration of Pearson Park, Beverley Road Townscape Heritage, and the Revealing Hull grant scheme in 2017 to name but a few. The Greenwich Time Ball will now join a host of wonderful heritage projects in the city that people can be proud of.”