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BBC Hidden treasurers of The National Trust, Series 2, episode 4.

National Trust Pagoda clock module
Fig.1. The new clock module reversibly mated to 18th and 19th century components

The Pagoda Clock at Anglesey Abbey
Our involvement with the National Trust’s pagoda clock at Anglesey Abbey, began over ten years ago when the Trust approached West Dean College with the clock as a possible professional development project.  Post-graduate student Brittany Nicole Cox undertook the mammoth task of successfully cleaning and documenting both the casing and the mechanisms of the eighteenth-century work.  This project revealed many of the ‘secrets’ of the clock, including some of the numerous alterations that had taken place of the 250-year life of the object, and the addition of paper slips to prevent the enamelled panels vibrating when the clock music plays. 
It was during the testing of this phase of conservation that we discovered significant on-going wear was taking place to the main music and automaton driving mechanism.  In close consultation with the Trust and its advisors, we decided to reversibly copy the functionally of this part of the mechanism with a bespoke electronic drive unit and digital sound source.  The original music was recorded by John Leonard, and electronics control designed and developed by Mark Record and John Butt, who also made the uninterruptable power supply.


Pagoda clock conservation work in situ at National Trust
Fig. 2. Working in-situ at NT_Anglesey Abbey

The modified original drive mechanism now sits alongside the clock.
Special thanks to staff, volunteers and members of the public at National Trust Anglesey Abbey, and to Blast films for making the experience so enjoyable.
Matthew Read
May 2024

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