£350k bill for repairs to Southampton Civic Centre's clock tower after storm damage

Southampton Civic Centre's clock tower with part of the roof missing

Southampton Civic Centre's clock tower with part of the roof missing

First published in News
Last updated
Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Political reporter

IT IS a symbol of Southampton that has towered over the city for almost 80 years.

But when a violent storm hit the city on Christmas Eve, it caused such extensive damage to the iconic Civic Centre clock tower that it has been out of action ever since.

And now cash-strapped city council bosses are facing up to paying £350,000 to restore it to its former glory.

The storm on Christmas Eve blew off a third of the building’s copper roof, while one of the tower’s main beams was also damaged, putting its bells out of action.

An enormous cherry picker was used for engineers to assess the extent of the damage in January, and the Labour city council’s Cabinet is set to rubber-stamp a programme of urgent repair work at a meeting today.

The council is unable to claim any of the money back on insurance, as civic chiefs say the building is not insured as it was not “cost effective” to take out a policy.

The works will include replacing about a third of the copper roof, repairing the bell and bell-frame and major stone and steelwork repairs.

If the plans are approved by the Cabinet today, work is expected to begin within the next few months.

A huge scaffold, almost as tall as the 156 foot-tall tower, will be put up to allow builders to carry out the work.

And a council report has warned that the project is “liable to change as there is a significant possibility that further unforeseen and urgent works will be discovered once there is access to the exterior of the tower”.

With the council having agreed £14.4million of cuts and the loss of almost 100 jobs last month, it is an extra financial burden civic bosses could have done without.

But council leader Simon Letts said: “It is the symbol of Southampton in many ways, after the Bargate, and we are duty-bound to preserve it for future generations.

“We carried out a thorough inspection of the tower after the damage to the roof and discovered that one of the beams that holds the bells up is broken, so their familiar chimes have been silenced since Christmas.

“Once the scaffolding is up we will be making the most of the opportunity to do 20 years’ worth of repairs and get the job done properly.

“Luckily, some of the money will come from a surplus left over from the recent Civic Centre refurbishment.”

Comments (24)

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6:22am Tue 18 Mar 14

saint61 says...

So are historic building an icon of the city is not insured. Wow let's hope we don't any major disaster there that deems the building unrepairable.

This council are beyond belief, yet another complete incompetent excuse. Why not use the evening car park charges to pay for it?
So are historic building an icon of the city is not insured. Wow let's hope we don't any major disaster there that deems the building unrepairable. This council are beyond belief, yet another complete incompetent excuse. Why not use the evening car park charges to pay for it? saint61
  • Score: 13

6:31am Tue 18 Mar 14

Huey says...

It looks old and a bir rubbish anyway. Replace it with one of those laser clocks that beams the time into the sky.
It looks old and a bir rubbish anyway. Replace it with one of those laser clocks that beams the time into the sky. Huey
  • Score: -26

7:05am Tue 18 Mar 14

Quentin Heslop says...

saint61 wrote:
So are historic building an icon of the city is not insured. Wow let's hope we don't any major disaster there that deems the building unrepairable.

This council are beyond belief, yet another complete incompetent excuse. Why not use the evening car park charges to pay for it?
All councils self insure.
[quote][p][bold]saint61[/bold] wrote: So are historic building an icon of the city is not insured. Wow let's hope we don't any major disaster there that deems the building unrepairable. This council are beyond belief, yet another complete incompetent excuse. Why not use the evening car park charges to pay for it?[/p][/quote]All councils self insure. Quentin Heslop
  • Score: 6

7:14am Tue 18 Mar 14

skeptik says...

Apart from councils - much government materiel is not insured especially military.
Apart from councils - much government materiel is not insured especially military. skeptik
  • Score: 2

7:34am Tue 18 Mar 14

Winterhawk says...

That'll be 50k for the repairs an 300k to hire the scaffolding for a year.
That'll be 50k for the repairs an 300k to hire the scaffolding for a year. Winterhawk
  • Score: 14

8:18am Tue 18 Mar 14

rudolph_hucker says...

Huey wrote:
It looks old and a bir rubbish anyway. Replace it with one of those laser clocks that beams the time into the sky.
Mmmmmmn classy
[quote][p][bold]Huey[/bold] wrote: It looks old and a bir rubbish anyway. Replace it with one of those laser clocks that beams the time into the sky.[/p][/quote]Mmmmmmn classy rudolph_hucker
  • Score: 1

8:55am Tue 18 Mar 14

in search of the truth says...

The town of Newport in South Wales has a similar looking Civic Centre with a clock tower.

When I lived there for a year in the late 1960's the locals always used to complain ( because the clock rarely worked and never seemed to show the same time on all 4 faces ), that it would have been cheaper for the council to have given everybody who lived within the town a good watch than to pay for the clock and clock tower,
The town of Newport in South Wales has a similar looking Civic Centre with a clock tower. When I lived there for a year in the late 1960's the locals always used to complain ( because the clock rarely worked and never seemed to show the same time on all 4 faces ), that it would have been cheaper for the council to have given everybody who lived within the town a good watch than to pay for the clock and clock tower, in search of the truth
  • Score: 1

9:05am Tue 18 Mar 14

bigfella777 says...

A weeks toll money from Itchen Bridge will pay for that
A weeks toll money from Itchen Bridge will pay for that bigfella777
  • Score: 5

9:07am Tue 18 Mar 14

Big Mac says...

Everyone knows the time off their watch, mobile, from the car, from the station... the only people who can't tell the time is the council, they still think it's the 90's!
Everyone knows the time off their watch, mobile, from the car, from the station... the only people who can't tell the time is the council, they still think it's the 90's! Big Mac
  • Score: -7

9:12am Tue 18 Mar 14

charrlee says...

rudolph_hucker wrote:
Huey wrote:
It looks old and a bir rubbish anyway. Replace it with one of those laser clocks that beams the time into the sky.
Mmmmmmn classy
Some older people might be horrified at your suggestion, but it makes a lot more sense than wasting all that money on an obsolete feature.

"Kimber's Chimney" was not in the original plans, but was added as a novelty structure so that people could see the time from all parts of the city. Subsequent building now masks that view from all but a few vantage points. So its original purpose is no longer being fulfilled.

At the time, the brilliant white Roman(?)-style building was considered to be out of character with the rest of Southampton's architecture, which was mostly a curious blend of Norman and Victorian. It was known locally as "the wedding cake".

I suppose removing it would cost more than repairing it, and a quick "patch-up" job false economy.

No doubt Murray will suggest selling a few extra paintings at his proposed "Echo Car Boot Sale". Yeh ! Sell the lot, and turn what would then have become the redundant Art Gallery into the much needed Benny Hill Memorial Centre.......and....
and ice rink ! No ?

The last paragraph : is this satire, or is it trolling? Answers in a self-addressed email, please.
[quote][p][bold]rudolph_hucker[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Huey[/bold] wrote: It looks old and a bir rubbish anyway. Replace it with one of those laser clocks that beams the time into the sky.[/p][/quote]Mmmmmmn classy[/p][/quote]Some older people might be horrified at your suggestion, but it makes a lot more sense than wasting all that money on an obsolete feature. "Kimber's Chimney" was not in the original plans, but was added as a novelty structure so that people could see the time from all parts of the city. Subsequent building now masks that view from all but a few vantage points. So its original purpose is no longer being fulfilled. At the time, the brilliant white Roman(?)-style building was considered to be out of character with the rest of Southampton's architecture, which was mostly a curious blend of Norman and Victorian. It was known locally as "the wedding cake". I suppose removing it would cost more than repairing it, and a quick "patch-up" job false economy. No doubt Murray will suggest selling a few extra paintings at his proposed "Echo Car Boot Sale". Yeh ! Sell the lot, and turn what would then have become the redundant Art Gallery into the much needed Benny Hill Memorial Centre.......and.... and ice rink ! No ? The last paragraph : is this satire, or is it trolling? Answers in a self-addressed email, please. charrlee
  • Score: -1

9:13am Tue 18 Mar 14

eurogordi says...

Uninsured? Unbelievable! Surely the cost of an insurance policy would be much less than £350K?
Uninsured? Unbelievable! Surely the cost of an insurance policy would be much less than £350K? eurogordi
  • Score: -5

9:25am Tue 18 Mar 14

bigfella777 says...

Big Mac wrote:
Everyone knows the time off their watch, mobile, from the car, from the station... the only people who can't tell the time is the council, they still think it's the 90's!
Anyone who lives near it would be glad of the rest from it's continual noise and mechanical hymn playing, I moved because of it as I don't like getting up at 6am on a Sunday.
[quote][p][bold]Big Mac[/bold] wrote: Everyone knows the time off their watch, mobile, from the car, from the station... the only people who can't tell the time is the council, they still think it's the 90's![/p][/quote]Anyone who lives near it would be glad of the rest from it's continual noise and mechanical hymn playing, I moved because of it as I don't like getting up at 6am on a Sunday. bigfella777
  • Score: -5

9:36am Tue 18 Mar 14

On the inside says...

saint61 wrote:
So are historic building an icon of the city is not insured. Wow let's hope we don't any major disaster there that deems the building unrepairable.

This council are beyond belief, yet another complete incompetent excuse. Why not use the evening car park charges to pay for it?
Everyone who knows anything about local government knows that insuring buildings is cost prohibitive to public bodies. They also know that parking charges are legally restricted to the LTP and cannot be spent on alternative capital projects. Please tell me you don't insist on voting.
[quote][p][bold]saint61[/bold] wrote: So are historic building an icon of the city is not insured. Wow let's hope we don't any major disaster there that deems the building unrepairable. This council are beyond belief, yet another complete incompetent excuse. Why not use the evening car park charges to pay for it?[/p][/quote]Everyone who knows anything about local government knows that insuring buildings is cost prohibitive to public bodies. They also know that parking charges are legally restricted to the LTP and cannot be spent on alternative capital projects. Please tell me you don't insist on voting. On the inside
  • Score: 5

9:57am Tue 18 Mar 14

wwozzer says...

£350k for some copper sheet and a wooden beam!!? it's a fecking clock tower not a Faberge egg.

£15K for the repairs, £35k for scaffolding and cranes, £150k for consultancy fees and another £150k for health and safety compliance.
£350k for some copper sheet and a wooden beam!!? it's a fecking clock tower not a Faberge egg. £15K for the repairs, £35k for scaffolding and cranes, £150k for consultancy fees and another £150k for health and safety compliance. wwozzer
  • Score: 3

10:01am Tue 18 Mar 14

charrlee says...

On the inside wrote:
saint61 wrote:
So are historic building an icon of the city is not insured. Wow let's hope we don't any major disaster there that deems the building unrepairable.

This council are beyond belief, yet another complete incompetent excuse. Why not use the evening car park charges to pay for it?
Everyone who knows anything about local government knows that insuring buildings is cost prohibitive to public bodies. They also know that parking charges are legally restricted to the LTP and cannot be spent on alternative capital projects. Please tell me you don't insist on voting.
He insists on using the English language despite not knowing much about that, either.
[quote][p][bold]On the inside[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]saint61[/bold] wrote: So are historic building an icon of the city is not insured. Wow let's hope we don't any major disaster there that deems the building unrepairable. This council are beyond belief, yet another complete incompetent excuse. Why not use the evening car park charges to pay for it?[/p][/quote]Everyone who knows anything about local government knows that insuring buildings is cost prohibitive to public bodies. They also know that parking charges are legally restricted to the LTP and cannot be spent on alternative capital projects. Please tell me you don't insist on voting.[/p][/quote]He insists on using the English language despite not knowing much about that, either. charrlee
  • Score: 2

10:58am Tue 18 Mar 14

bigfella777 says...

Why don't they put a thatched roof on it? It would blend in well with the cacky image of the city.
Why don't they put a thatched roof on it? It would blend in well with the cacky image of the city. bigfella777
  • Score: -1

11:16am Tue 18 Mar 14

good-gosh says...

Iconic? Does that mean the tower is supposed to be an inspiration for architectural imagination? Could have fooled me.
Iconic? Does that mean the tower is supposed to be an inspiration for architectural imagination? Could have fooled me. good-gosh
  • Score: -3

11:33am Tue 18 Mar 14

Donald2000 says...

Big Mac wrote:
Everyone knows the time off their watch, mobile, from the car, from the station... the only people who can't tell the time is the council, they still think it's the 90's!
Thank you. Of course you meant the 1890's, did you not?
[quote][p][bold]Big Mac[/bold] wrote: Everyone knows the time off their watch, mobile, from the car, from the station... the only people who can't tell the time is the council, they still think it's the 90's![/p][/quote]Thank you. Of course you meant the 1890's, did you not? Donald2000
  • Score: -1

12:14pm Tue 18 Mar 14

charrlee says...

bigfella777 wrote:
Why don't they put a thatched roof on it? It would blend in well with the cacky image of the city.
So where has it been established that there is a link between thatched roofs and cacky images?
[quote][p][bold]bigfella777[/bold] wrote: Why don't they put a thatched roof on it? It would blend in well with the cacky image of the city.[/p][/quote]So where has it been established that there is a link between thatched roofs and cacky images? charrlee
  • Score: -1

12:22pm Tue 18 Mar 14

gilbertratchet says...

charrlee wrote:
rudolph_hucker wrote:
Huey wrote:
It looks old and a bir rubbish anyway. Replace it with one of those laser clocks that beams the time into the sky.
Mmmmmmn classy
Some older people might be horrified at your suggestion, but it makes a lot more sense than wasting all that money on an obsolete feature.

"Kimber's Chimney" was not in the original plans, but was added as a novelty structure so that people could see the time from all parts of the city. Subsequent building now masks that view from all but a few vantage points. So its original purpose is no longer being fulfilled.

At the time, the brilliant white Roman(?)-style building was considered to be out of character with the rest of Southampton's architecture, which was mostly a curious blend of Norman and Victorian. It was known locally as "the wedding cake".

I suppose removing it would cost more than repairing it, and a quick "patch-up" job false economy.

No doubt Murray will suggest selling a few extra paintings at his proposed "Echo Car Boot Sale". Yeh ! Sell the lot, and turn what would then have become the redundant Art Gallery into the much needed Benny Hill Memorial Centre.......and....

and ice rink ! No ?

The last paragraph : is this satire, or is it trolling? Answers in a self-addressed email, please.
"Kimbers Chimney" sounds like a euphemism for a certain back passage.
[quote][p][bold]charrlee[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]rudolph_hucker[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Huey[/bold] wrote: It looks old and a bir rubbish anyway. Replace it with one of those laser clocks that beams the time into the sky.[/p][/quote]Mmmmmmn classy[/p][/quote]Some older people might be horrified at your suggestion, but it makes a lot more sense than wasting all that money on an obsolete feature. "Kimber's Chimney" was not in the original plans, but was added as a novelty structure so that people could see the time from all parts of the city. Subsequent building now masks that view from all but a few vantage points. So its original purpose is no longer being fulfilled. At the time, the brilliant white Roman(?)-style building was considered to be out of character with the rest of Southampton's architecture, which was mostly a curious blend of Norman and Victorian. It was known locally as "the wedding cake". I suppose removing it would cost more than repairing it, and a quick "patch-up" job false economy. No doubt Murray will suggest selling a few extra paintings at his proposed "Echo Car Boot Sale". Yeh ! Sell the lot, and turn what would then have become the redundant Art Gallery into the much needed Benny Hill Memorial Centre.......and.... and ice rink ! No ? The last paragraph : is this satire, or is it trolling? Answers in a self-addressed email, please.[/p][/quote]"Kimbers Chimney" sounds like a euphemism for a certain back passage. gilbertratchet
  • Score: -1

3:57pm Tue 18 Mar 14

townieboy says...

Keep the clock........through away them pompey chimes. the scrap value will cover the repair costs.
Keep the clock........through away them pompey chimes. the scrap value will cover the repair costs. townieboy
  • Score: 0

7:54pm Tue 18 Mar 14

elvisimo says...

Huey wrote:
It looks old and a bir rubbish anyway. Replace it with one of those laser clocks that beams the time into the sky.
Ha quality
[quote][p][bold]Huey[/bold] wrote: It looks old and a bir rubbish anyway. Replace it with one of those laser clocks that beams the time into the sky.[/p][/quote]Ha quality elvisimo
  • Score: 0

8:00pm Tue 18 Mar 14

elvisimo says...

gilbertratchet wrote:
charrlee wrote:
rudolph_hucker wrote:
Huey wrote:
It looks old and a bir rubbish anyway. Replace it with one of those laser clocks that beams the time into the sky.
Mmmmmmn classy
Some older people might be horrified at your suggestion, but it makes a lot more sense than wasting all that money on an obsolete feature.

"Kimber's Chimney" was not in the original plans, but was added as a novelty structure so that people could see the time from all parts of the city. Subsequent building now masks that view from all but a few vantage points. So its original purpose is no longer being fulfilled.

At the time, the brilliant white Roman(?)-style building was considered to be out of character with the rest of Southampton's architecture, which was mostly a curious blend of Norman and Victorian. It was known locally as "the wedding cake".

I suppose removing it would cost more than repairing it, and a quick "patch-up" job false economy.

No doubt Murray will suggest selling a few extra paintings at his proposed "Echo Car Boot Sale". Yeh ! Sell the lot, and turn what would then have become the redundant Art Gallery into the much needed Benny Hill Memorial Centre.......and....


and ice rink ! No ?

The last paragraph : is this satire, or is it trolling? Answers in a self-addressed email, please.
"Kimbers Chimney" sounds like a euphemism for a certain back passage.
No it doesn't . Poop shoot or dung hoop, perhaps but not Kimbers Chimney.
[quote][p][bold]gilbertratchet[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]charrlee[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]rudolph_hucker[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Huey[/bold] wrote: It looks old and a bir rubbish anyway. Replace it with one of those laser clocks that beams the time into the sky.[/p][/quote]Mmmmmmn classy[/p][/quote]Some older people might be horrified at your suggestion, but it makes a lot more sense than wasting all that money on an obsolete feature. "Kimber's Chimney" was not in the original plans, but was added as a novelty structure so that people could see the time from all parts of the city. Subsequent building now masks that view from all but a few vantage points. So its original purpose is no longer being fulfilled. At the time, the brilliant white Roman(?)-style building was considered to be out of character with the rest of Southampton's architecture, which was mostly a curious blend of Norman and Victorian. It was known locally as "the wedding cake". I suppose removing it would cost more than repairing it, and a quick "patch-up" job false economy. No doubt Murray will suggest selling a few extra paintings at his proposed "Echo Car Boot Sale". Yeh ! Sell the lot, and turn what would then have become the redundant Art Gallery into the much needed Benny Hill Memorial Centre.......and.... and ice rink ! No ? The last paragraph : is this satire, or is it trolling? Answers in a self-addressed email, please.[/p][/quote]"Kimbers Chimney" sounds like a euphemism for a certain back passage.[/p][/quote]No it doesn't . Poop shoot or dung hoop, perhaps but not Kimbers Chimney. elvisimo
  • Score: 0

8:27pm Tue 18 Mar 14

OSPREYSAINT says...

townieboy wrote:
Keep the clock........through away them pompey chimes. the scrap value will cover the repair costs.
Not really Pompey chimes methinks, Westminster Chimes and the occasional rendition of O God , Our Help in Ages Past (composed by Isaac Watts). wouldn't expect someone that cannot spell 'throw' to know much about the history of the clock tower anyway.
[quote][p][bold]townieboy[/bold] wrote: Keep the clock........through away them pompey chimes. the scrap value will cover the repair costs.[/p][/quote]Not really Pompey chimes methinks, Westminster Chimes and the occasional rendition of O God , Our Help in Ages Past (composed by Isaac Watts). wouldn't expect someone that cannot spell 'throw' to know much about the history of the clock tower anyway. OSPREYSAINT
  • Score: 1

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