Time stands still in Taradale after another earthquake

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The Taradale clock has been repeatedly affected by earthquakes and again was halted by this week's big shake. Photo: Warren Buckland
The Taradale clock has been repeatedly affected by earthquakes and again was halted by this week's big shake. Photo: Warren Buckland

Time stood still for the Taradale Memorial Clock Tower on Monday morning, just minutes after the magnitude 7.5 earthquake hit, with the hands poised at 12.10am.

It was back in action by about lunchtime on Monday, but this was not the first time the 94-year-old landmark had felt the effects of an earth-rattling tremor.

During the 1931 earthquake it suffered considerable damage, reported at the time to have ended up with an "alarming" lean, having tilted 2ft, 6in (75cm).

A report in the Taradale Times in 1977 noted that work to restore it to its upright position was carried out by a well-known Taradale builder, Jack Ellis, who had designed the structure.

This work involved straightening the building and laying a new triangular foundation underneath.

The article stated: "His son recalls that 50 ton jacks were used during the restoration work and when any subsequent tremors occurred Mr Ellis senior would go straight away and check that the jacks were holding.

"Mr Ellis senior gave his services in restoring the building voluntarily and five Taradale returned servicemen were employed to assist him."

Described as "very public spirited", Jack Ellis carried out many projects in Taradale, including the building of the town hall in 1932, before his death in the early 1940s.

Although unveiled on December 16, 1923, by the then Governor-General Admiral Viscount Jellicoe, the clock's history started some seven years before that with the purchase of the site for a soldiers' memorial in 1916 where an Anzac service was held that same year.

The following year, residents elected a committee for the memorial project and in 1919, after another public meeting, a clock tower and shelter was chosen as "a very appropriate and lasting tribute".

Various events were organised, from which £1800 was raised for the project with a
further £500 coming from the Town Board and school children raising funds for the Roll of Honour tablets.

A Westminster quarter chiming clock was installed in the tower, the site was landscaped and all was put in order for the official opening in December 1923.

In 1997, murals depicting the three services - army, navy and air force - were painted in the bays of the tower by Brenda Morrell.

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