Joy as church clock tower starts ‘Tooting’ again after 20 years’ silence

A year-long restoration on a Tooting church is finished and its clock is chiming again after a 20-year silence.

The clock stopped ringing after the mechanism deteriorated but now chimes every hour and half hour.

A night silencer is used to keep the clock quiet between 10pm and 8am.

The repairs on the Holy Trinity Church’s 60-foot tower began in July 2019 and were expected to last four months.

However, the £400,000 renovations of the grade II listed church on Trinity Road finished in August 2020 due to delays from the coronavirus pandemic.

Balham and Tooting Community Association secretary Kate Allan said: “The church and the tower now stand out as a shining beacon.

“The population has changed so much over the years, but the church has always been the solid core of Tooting Bec.”

The church was built in 1855 and 165 years of weather and pollution meant the clock and tower, which boasts bird’s eye views of Canary Wharf and Crystal Palace, had deteriorated.

The church’s annual income, which is predominately made up of donations from the congregation, paid for half the renovation costs and appeals raised up to £40,000.

The Heritage Lottery Fund granted £64,000 and other major and minor funders contributed.

The Tooting church clock and hands were regilded and the chiming mechanism was repaired.

A separate, single bell rings five minutes before services on a Sunday.

Allan added: “There’s something about clocks – they chime with the human heart.”

The stonework, made from Kentish ragstone, roof and guttering were also restored and replaced.

GOOD AS NEW: Before and after transformation of the stonework. Credits: Holy Trinity Upper Tooting Website

The unique, flower carvings adorning the tower are believed to have originated from when Tooting was a market gardening area deteriorated as well.

They are thought to have been lilies or orchids as both were grown locally.

Skilled craftsmen and stonemasons carved a new set replicating the original flowers by hand.

The church encourages the public to donate £250 to name a flower after a loved one as part of the ongoing ‘Give a Flower for the Tower’ appeal.

Allan, a member of the church for 40 years after moving to Tooting in the 1970s, said: “The restoration has attracted a positive response and it makes people feel good about living in Tooting Bec.

“The complete restoration of the flowers has warmed people’s hearts.”

Up to 20 people have already donated generously.

The church supports vulnerable people and holds weekly advice cafés for the homeless and social meals for those with long term mental health problems.

Holy Trinity Church has put free tower tours and talks on hold due to Covid-19, but plans to show its history and the restoration to the public virtually. 

The extensive restoration carried out by Universal Stone Ltd and Ablett Architects is hoped to last for the next 100 years.

For more information on the church visit:

Credit: Kate Allan

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