The Eastgate Clock in Chester is talk of the town after being seen wearing a new outfit in time for the summer season.
Britain’s second most photographed clock after Big Ben has been encased in protective plastic while specialist contractors William Anelay carry out restorations to sections of its ornamental ironwork, which is beginning to show the effects of the ravages of time.
But the ingenious covering hiding the scaffolding depicts a photographic image of the bridge and clock so tourists and visitors can still have a snap taken with Chester’s world-famous landmark which even has working hands to tell the time.
The clock cover is part of a £500,000 restoration which will also see sections of damaged sandstone on the Eastgate repaired, and heraldry on the bridge – including the arms of the County Palatine Richard Grosvenor, the sword of justice and three sheaves – re-gilded.
The Walls walkway is closed throughout the works - due for completion in the summer – from the access steps behind Milton’s jewellery shop to the ramp and steps at Bell Tower Walk. A short pedestrian diversion is in place re-routing the City Walls walk along St Werburgh Street and Bell Tower Walk.
Cheshire West and Chester Council, which is carrying out the work, has been working closely with all affected businesses to keep them informed and minimise disruption as much as possible. Many of the names of shops whose frontages have been impacted by the work feature on the clock cover including Dinky Donuts, Clarks, the Grosvenor Hotel and Yankee Candles.
Local artist John Donnelly - a familiar sight to visitors to the clock from where he has sketched and sold his artwork for more than 20 years - has been temporarily relocated to the newly-restored King Charles Tower.
Cllr Stuart Parker, executive member for culture and economy, said: “Nobody wants to see one of Chester’s best-loved landmarks hidden from view but it is an essential protective measure during this highly specialised restoration work.
“It might not be quite the same as gazing at the second most photographed clock in Britain, but we hope that this protective wrap, bearing its image with hands that keep the time, is the next best thing.”